University of Alberta's Faculty recognized for work in Nepal



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Members of the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry are being recognized for a decade-long initiative that has finally paid off.

In the early 2000s, two members of the U of A faculty had a chance meeting and found out that both of them had been volunteering their time to help establish a health sciences medical school in Nepal.

Eventually the project picked up momentum and, in 2010, the Patan Academy of Health Sciences accepted its first medical student.

And this would not have been possible with out the co-operation of many of the university’s faculty members.

“The interesting thing is there was never an organized, proactive effort to attract a bigger volunteer base. I never gave a sales pitch to anyone,” David Zakus, director of global health with the faculty said in a press release.

“We’ve gone from one to two to 15 in a very natural way.”

Those 15 volunteers offer their expertise in the fields of laboratory medicine and pathology, family medicine, pediatrics, nephrology, cardiology, endocrinology, rehabilitation medicine and community engagement, and have allowed the Nepali medical school to serve a crucial need in the community.

The school focuses on meeting the needs of those in rural areas who were left under-served by a civil war that lasted until 2006.

“Not only is this effort important in a humanitarian and collegial aspect,” Zakus said.

“What we have learned here about rural medicine is applicable in Nepal and what physicians in Nepal have learned about the same issue there is applicable here in Alberta.”

The efforts of the university staff was recently recognized in the peer-reviewed Global Journal of Health Sciences.

Authors of the article noted the necessity for the school calling it the “gateway to Nepal’s most needy communities.”

— AARON TAYLOR, Sun Media News Services