"This is a very important international program," said Harvey Friedman, MD, Director of the Penn-Botswana Program and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Penn. "Botswana is considered the test tube case in Africa regarding AIDS. If we can't do something to turn around the epidemic in Botswana it would really be discouraging. This is one of the frontiers in HIV care, and I am proud that Penn is leading the way."
Penn's role in Botswana began in July 2001 when the Government of Botswana, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Merck Foundation, initiated a program to make antiretroviral therapies available to citizens with HIV/AIDS. Penn actively participated by providing Infectious Diseases faculty to instruct and train local providers on the management of HIV-infected patients and on the proper use of the antiretroviral drugs.
In January 2004, the Penn-Botswana expanded when Penn physicians assumed leadership roles by becoming responsible for one of six inpatient medical wards at Princess Marina Hospital (PMH) in Gaborone, which is the largest public hospital in the nation. Nearly two years later on November 1, 2005, at the request of the Botswana Government, the Penn-Botswana Program assumed responsibility for a second inpatient medical ward at PMH and expanded to Francistown, which is the second largest city in the country. During the current academic year, more than 40 Penn residents and medical students, under the supervision of Penn faculty, will participate in clinical programs at both hospitals.
Despite the expansion and the continued support of Penn faculty, residents and students, the relationship between Penn and Botswana is mutually rewarding. "While we are helping with the AIDS epidemic, they are helping us by providing Penn students with a once-in-a-lifetime experience," explains Friedman. "I am not surprised that, upon returning from Botswana, some students change their career goals."
The relationship between Penn and Botswana may not stop at the School of Medicine. Representatives from the School of Nursing have investigated the feasibility of starting programs in Botswana. Others Penn entities interested in Botswana include the Wharton Business School, the School of Social Policy and Practice, and the Annenberg School for Communication.
PENN Medicine is a $2.9 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #3 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which is consistently ranked one of the nation's few "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center]; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.