Botswana-UPenn Partnership to Mark 10 Years of Collaboration

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Media Contact: | | October 7, 2011

PHILADELPHIA -- Ten Botswana-UPenn Partnership faculty and staff based in that southern African nation will join their colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania Monday, Oct. 10, to begin a weeklong reflective celebration of their 10 years of collaboration.

The anniversary observance will include a host of discussions reflecting on the Partnership’s efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS and developing other medical, research and academic programs to benefit the people of Botswana and students at Penn.

Penn students who have interned in Botswana will participate in “Experience Africa Forum -- Penn Student Perspectives,” 5- 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 12, in Room 345, Jon M. Huntsman Hall, 3730 Walnut St.

On Thursday, Oct. 13, Andrew Steenhoff, BUP research director, will moderate a Botswana research update from 2 to 4 p.m. in Room BRB 253, 421 Curie Blvd. Participants will discuss their aims, collaborators, funding, obstacles and logistical lessons learned. 

 The highlight of the conference will be the Anniversary Symposium from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 14, in the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine’s Rubenstein Auditorium, 1st Floor, Translational Research Center, 3400 Civic Center Blvd. A historical overview of the Partnership will be followed by program updates on HIV/AIDS, women's health, pediatrics, adult tuberculosis and telemedicine and a closing panel discussion on plans for BUP’s next 10 years.

Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine sent its first physician to Botswana at the height of an HIV/AIDS epidemic that former Botswana President Festus Mogae said had people dying "in chillingly high numbers."

“Our original mission in Botswana was to train (healthcare) providers to care for patients with HIV/AIDS and its complications,” Harvey Friedman, professor of infectious diseases and director of the Partnership, said.

Since then, the Partnership has expanded to a staff of 65, including 11 full-time physicians, based in Botswana, and offers internship experiences for students from other Penn schools, including Nursing, Veterinary Medicine, Law, Wharton and Arts and Sciences. Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price have visited Botswana to see the work being done there.

The Partnership’s telemedicine program that focuses on women’s health, dermatology, radiology and oral health, is a particular success.  With medical specialists mainly centered in Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone, patients in rural areas often lack access to the care they need. The BUP telemedicine program enables healt-care workers in remote areas to send photographs to specialists, either elsewhere in Botswana or at Penn Medicine.

Registration and Partnership information are available at www.upenn.edu/botswana.

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