Due to the efforts of one of the graduates of the Harvard Neurology Program, Omar Siddiqi, MD MPH our department has established a strong association with the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka, Zambia. Each year, two residents receive a stipend to travel to Zambia for a one-month elective. During this elective, they see inpatient neurology consults, work in outpatient clinics, instruct medical students, and aid in existing research. UTH is affiliated with the University of Zambia School of Medicine, the nation’s first Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) granting medical school. This 1600-bed facility located in the capital city of Lusaka provides a diverse set of specialties to the citizens of Zambia, including Community Medicine, Internal Medicine (of which Neurology is a sub-specialty), Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pathology, and Pediatrics. Dr. Siddiqi lived full-time in Zambia from 2010 – 2021 and still travels there frequently to support his research program. He helped start Zambia’s first neurology training program which graduated its first class of three adult neurologists and two pediatric neurologists in October 2021. He also help found the Zambia Institute of Neurological Care, Research, and Education (ZINCARE) which is a multi-institutional collaboration within the grounds of UTH.
In 2014, BIDMC Neurology sent its first residents to Zambia to experience the practice of medicine in another country with a significantly different population than Boston, Massachusetts. These patients suffer from a variety of disease processes rarely seen in the United States, including AIDS-defining illnesses as TB Meningitis, Cerebral Toxoplasmosis, Cryptococcal Meningitis, and Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy, as well as endemic diseases such as African Trypanosomiasis and cerebral malaria. In addition to these disease processes, residents have the opportunity to navigate a health system vastly different than that of the United States. During the month-long rotation, they learn to treat patients in an environment with more limited access to imaging and medications. They also experience the strong bonds that Zambian patients and their families share, much like those of their patients in America. In addition to exposure to patients and the Zambian healthcare system, residents have the opportunity to interact with other independent research organizations, such as Zambia AIDS Related Tuberculosis Project (ZAMBART) and the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ). There are a number of academic institutions who send residents to rotate in Zambia throughout the year. This provides BIDMC residents the opportunity to learn and interact with other neurology trainees from the U.S., Europe, and Zambia.
Zambia is also known to be one of the most peaceful countries in sub-Saharan Africa with a democratically elected president. The official language of the country is English so visitors have little difficulty interacting with patients. Some of the native languages spoken are Nyanja, Bemba, Tonga, and Lozi among numerous others. Most trainees are impressed by the warmth and openness of the Zambian people. Finally, Zambia is a country of unprecedented beauty with numerous national parks and abundant wildlife. Most visitors elect to further explore this amazing region at the conclusion of the elective.
For more information on this elective, please contact Dr. Omar Siddiqi, Director, Global Neurology Program at email@example.com.