Making Global Health Connections: North Carolina to Africa

I am in Brussels, and leave for South Africa this evening.

This is a trip for me to learn first hand what UNC is doing in Africa focused on South Africa and Malawi.

It is important to understand why we are involved there and, as is the case for all of global health we do this not only for humanitarian reasons, but especially to benefit the citizens of North Carolina.

Our work in Malawi is supported by $8 million per year in research grants, which comes to UNC. This supports the salaries of UNC faculty who provide care to North Carolinians and teach UNC students. It also provides training opportunities for UNC medical students, residents and graduate students over 20 this year alone.

UNC's facilities in Malawi also gives us cutting edge labs in a distant country, which allows us to keep track of emerging infections that eventually might be problematic for North Carolina citizens. And the development of diagnostic assays and prevention and treatment plans in Africa will also advance care in North Carolina.

In South Africa we have UNC grad students and faculty working with key researchers. And we are working on a three-way partnership between the University of the Witwatersrand and the College of Medicine of Malawi, for training of Malawi health professionals in southern Africa, who will return to work in Malawi.

Working with senior governmental officials in Malawi and South Africa as I and others will be doing this week helps establish friendly links with other countries that are trading partners of the United States.

So UNC's global health initiatives are important for our contributions that help others but also because this work directly benefits the people of North Carolina. We seek to grow and expand these vital activities around the world, and at home.

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