The University of Michigan and Africa

All of the McCropders have lived in Ann Arbor for part of the years of medical training, and this makes for an irresistible association with the University of Michigan, stronger for some of us than others.

As a whole, we see this as a huge plus, and the connections with the University will likely have effects in years to come that we can only hypothesize about at the present. As it turns out, within this vast health system, there are a number of medical projects in Africa, and we have been trying to understand these and how we might fit in.

Yesterday morning, Jason and Eric had breakfast with Dr. Andy Haig, Professor of PM&R (physical rehabilitation), who has been involved in two of U of M's Africa projects. The largest project is in Accra, Ghana, where for many years the health system, particularly the OB-GYN department, has been involved in medical education. The most impressive thing that I've heard from this thus far is that, during the time of their involvement, the number of trained OB-GYNs who finished and then stayed to practice in Ghana has risen dramatically. In these times of the highest educated Africans leaving their homes in the so-called "Brain Drain", the significance of this can not be overstated. It is our understanding that U of M is wanting to expand their involvement in Ghana in a big way over the next several years across the board, to include not only different medical fields, but business, pharmacy, nursing, engineering, social work, etc. - a very large endeavor with ambitious but feasible goals.

Dr. Haig has been involved in a smaller project in Liberia, in conjunction with Mercy Ships, in which he has met with numerous people in the government and medical education, regarding possibly developing some kind of Rehabilitation program, which is virtually non-existent there at present. He told us about the state of education, namely that clinical faculty to teach the students are exceedingly rare in these years of post-civil unrest, and thus the graduating physicians are notably undertrained. It's interesting for us to consider this (or a similar opportunity) as a place to invest in the future.

The last project with which we've become acquainted is headed up with the help of Dr. Rusty Chavey, who is also Eric's advisor within Family Medicine. A couple years ago, he teamed up with the U of M business school and they have been working with a hospital in Uganda, with a goal of helping them to improve the delivery of medical services and their own business model, to the end that they could be more financially self-sustainable, and stretch their resources further to provide more care.

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