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Live from Ambanja

Medical Workcamp in the North of Madagascar

The Workcamp is a "squeezed life juice" a concentrate of experience that everyone can dilute in their daily life and which can be inspiring when it comes to define their own values, both in the professional practice and in the true meaning of human being”. That’s the way Dr. Giovanni Montini – responsible for the University Cooperation projects of the Biomedical Campus University of Rome and coordinator of the African subcontinental initiative, who’s been committed through the past years to combine solidarity and scientific Research at an international level – defines the Workcamp experience on field in Madagascar.

Young doctors, medical newcomers and radiology technicians are members of the working group that left for Ambanja, a town in the North of Madagascar on 30th September, with the aim to offer their contribute to the Saint Demien clinic. “The impact was not easy – explained Prof. Vittorio Altomare, who wanted to join the group – but just a few hours were sufficient to the boys to focus on the meaning of medicine as a science at the service of mankind.

Actually, the Italian team is carrying out the bearer for science, not only making themselves available among local doctors to spread out their know-how but also carrying physically the equipment, which was then used for the whole stay, both to visit the patients and collect data. In fact, young researchers of the Biomedical Campus carried out three Research projects within the 15-day Workcamp. The first two, coordinated by specializing physician Michele Arigliani, concern respectively malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency in children between 6 months and 5 years and the correlation between the status of vitamin A and respiratory function in children between 6 and 10 years. The third Research project, coordinated by specializing physician Ernesto Maddaloni, focuses on the implementation of an epidemiological survey on the prevalence of diabetes among the local population. The results will be available to the scientific community and international organizations in order to develop effective preventive strategies. “The aspect of the Research — have stressed the two young postgraduate students — combines with the aspect of Healthcare and solidarity. The recent publishing on an important international journal (PLoS One) of a study on diabetes, achieved by our University within the 2009 Workcamp in Cameroon, is a clear evidence of how these experiences can catch the attention of the Scientific Community in relation to unpublished but reliable epidemiological data. At the same time it gives an orientation to the international public health strategies in favour of the developing countries populations’ health needs, as those populations are already marginalized”.

The article in PLoS One — said Prof. Mottini — is just the latest step in a series of scientific initiatives that our University has carried out for about ten years in the African continent. It all began with the graduation thesis, written by one of our students in Congo in 2000, that was published in a scientific journal thanks to the interest aroused. The program of Research and training initiatives of our University in Africa for the coming years is meanwhile more and more enriching, as the contact network and local partners are enlarging and also thanks to the increasing requests of our students to give their academic track such a characteristic impact”.