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FOCUS ON PARISTOLOGY

Quick Summary: A unique two-week long training programme provided to UK medical students at the prestigious Department of Parasitology of the Faculty of Medicine, Colombo, Sri Lanka, the second oldest medical school in South-East Asia.

It was only in May 2015 that the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. Less than one year later, in February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) (http://www.cdc.gov/zika/about/). Dr. Margaret Chan, the leader of the WHO, speaking at the organisation’s annual World Health Assembly in May 2016, attributed the massive global policy failure in the control of mosquitoes as a prime cause for the rapid spread of Zika virus (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-36361326). It is indeed a matter of great regret that the science dedicated to the study of such vector borne diseases, as well as many others, Parasitology, is sometimes are not accorded the prominence it deserves in medical curricula, especially in the developed world. This is perhaps reflected in the label “Neglected Tropical Diseases”.

MegaReach is dedicated to highlighting the importance of Parasitology through active collaboration with recognised global experts. In July 2015, we engaged in one of our most ambitious projects by organising a unique two-week long training programme at the prestigious Department of Parasitology of the Faculty of Medicine, Colombo, Sri Lanka, the second oldest medical school in South-East Asia. 10 students from the medical schools of Leads, Peninsula and Plymouth thus had the privilege of learning about diseases such as malaria and leishmaniasis, which are seldom encountered in the non-tropical world, from a panel of experts of global repute led by Prof. Nadira Karunaweera (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nadira-karunaweera/) who have been credited with playing a leading role in eliminating endemic malaria from Sri Lanka, an achievement which was considered an impossibility even at the beginning of this century. We are very grateful to Dr. Harsha Alles, the Chairman of the Gateway Group (http://www.gatewayworldwide.com/index.php/about-us/directorate), for his magnanimous contribution in making this bespoke elective programme possible.

In addition to a series of coordinated lectures and tutorials, the programme also included laboratory sessions for the participants to master microscopic techniques, as well as three assessments. The participants even had the exclusive privilege of coming face to face with some of the most venomous snakes in the world! The programme was packed with many social events, which helped participants to relax despite the gruelling schedule. The feedback from the participants was uniformly supportive of repeating such programmes.

 

MegaReach is keen to open this opportunity to as many medical students as possible. It is a pre-requisite that any participant of this particular course must be able to prove that they are enrolled as medical students at a recognised institution anywhere in the world, or have completed at least an undergraduate course in medicine. If you are interested in joining our next expedition to Sri Lanka please do contact us through this website or through poornagunsi@yahoo.com.

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