Sharing medical knowledge around the world

by Lisa Spellman, UNMC public affairs


Letter of appreciation


The Office of International Healthcare Services also makes arrangements for e-mail consultations between physicians at UNMC, The Nebraska Medical Center and partner institutions around the world. The following excerpts are from a Sept. 29 letter sent by the ex-prime minister of India, the Hon. Chandra Shaker, who was the recipient of such a consultation.


“This consultation program has allowed me the opportunity to benefit from the experience of the world renowned Dr. James O. Armitage. Your program provided my family and physicians here in New Delhi, India, state of the art, one-on-one consultation and planning for my future treatment.”


“The International Strategic Partnership Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center is obviously providing great healthcare access to the people of India and around the globe. Your E-Consultation program is a very important global effort to help other healthcare providers to share the wealth of knowledge and experience of the expert physicians at Nebraska Medical Center.”



That’s how Toomas Vali, M.D., described his recent visit to UNMC, and its hospital partner, The Nebraska Medical Center.


“In just two weeks I observed five transplants – adult and pediatric,” Dr. Vali said. “In Estonia we only do a few a year.”


Dr. Vali, a liver transplant surgeon specialist, is one of three visiting physicians from Tartu University in Estonia who recently spent 14 days observing, training and learning about how medical procedures are performed at UNMC.


“It’s been a very good experience here,” Dr. Vali said.


Joining Dr. Vali from Estonia were Jaanus Kahu, M.D., a specialist in kidney transplantation and Hele Everaus, M.D., chief of hematology and oncology, who trained with the peripheral stem cell transplant team of physicians, nurses and laboratory technicians. Alejandro Menant, M.D., a surgeon specialist in liver transplants, from Hospital de Clinicas in Buenos Aires, Argentina, also was at UNMC.


Dr. Everaus spearheaded the stem cell transplant program at Tartu University hospitals after Estonia was granted independence when the Soviet Union disbanded in 1991. She single-handedly went door-to-door in the business and medical communities raising donations to open her program.


The four physicians were able to come to UNMC through the No-Cost International Strategic Partnership Program training program, started by Nizar Mamdani, executive director of the Office of International Healthcare Services. The program has helped more than 60 doctors, nurses and administrators learn first-hand the innovative medical procedures available at The Nebraska Medical Center.

Anne Marie Fredrichs, international program coordinator at The Nebraska Medical Center, develops individualized training programs for each partner institution and physician. Each trainee has the opportunity to observe physicians in clinics, surgeries and transplants, and interact with nurse coordinators and staff nurses and laboratory specialists in pathology with the goal of building long-term collegial relationships and research opportunities.


While the training is provided at no-cost, the return to the medical center is great, Mamdani said. “The international program has built relationships with more than 70 institutions in 31 countries around the world, drawn international patients from around the globe and has generated millions of dollars since its inception five years ago,” he said.


Physicians who participated in Mamdani’s no-cost training programs referred many of those patients, who have come from other countries to seek treatment at the medical center.


“There have been hundreds of patients from 29 countries treated at UNMC during the past four years,” Mamdani said.


“Our no-cost training programs have not only helped us generate profitable international patient referrals to UNMC, but have also helped build a solid foundation for long-term relationships by developing comfort levels between health care professionals at UNMC and our partner institutions.”


While this is a fantastic accomplishment, what really makes Mamdani smile is knowing that patients who can’t travel to the United States for medical treatment, because of cost or cultural issues, will still benefit from the training and knowledge the visiting physicians take back with them.


“It’s a humanitarian effort,” said Mamdani, “to try to help people around the world by reaching out to their doctors and offering our knowledge and training.”


Dr. Kahu is especially thankful he was able to come to UNMC. “I learned a lot more about how laparoscopic procedures are done,” he said. “It’s so much better for the patient and less invasive.”


Volunteers from the community provided tourism opportunities to enable the physicians to experience a bit of the Midwestern American culture and traditions. While here, they attended River City Roundup, and visited Joslyn Art and Western Heritage museums, the Henry Doorly Zoo, DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge, Fort Atkinson, the Old Market and many other sites.


Dr. Kahu also enjoyed the balmy fall weather. “It’s much colder and rainy in Estonia,” he said.


Over the next nine months, the Office of International Healthcare Services is expecting more than 30 additional doctors, nurses and administrators from 11 countries.


Date Published: Monday, November 1, 2004

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