Global Health Programs can help students to pursue global health experiences in several African countries. Please click on the country name to explore specific opportunities. Under "Penn Med Student-Arranged Experiences" you will find information about a large number of additional activities that Penn Med students have arranged on their own.
- General Information
- Clinical Elective - Medicine
- Clinical Elective - Dermatology
- Research Opportunities for MS1 Students
Medical students going to Botswana for any of the projects described on this webpage may find the Penn Infectious Diseases regularly-updated handbook helpful in preparing for all aspects of their stay. In addition each student will be given a guide to Princess Marina Hospital on arrival.
- Botswana Clinical Elective Information Session - December 2013
- Botswana Checklist
- Botswana Handbook
- Francistown Supplement
- Thoughts on Staying in the Penn Flats
- Beyond the School of Medicine: Botswana/UPenn Partnership (BUP)
- Learn Basics in Setswana:
- Background and History
Botswana has the world’s highest known prevalence of HIV infection, (~38% of adults). Botswana is also one of the most progressive countries in the world in terms of dealing with the HIV epidemic. Since 2001, the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and Division of Infectious Diseases has been working with Botswana’s Ministry of Health (MOH) to aid in the inpatient and outpatient care of patients with HIV/AIDS in the capital city of Gaborone. Penn infectious disease clinicians worked with the MOH and other universities to design a National ARV (antiretroviral) Treatment Program called Masa (Setswana for “new dawn" -- English is the official language of Botswana but Setswana is the indigenous language) that provides ARV therapy free of charge to all citizens of Botswana with HIV/AIDS.
In 2004, Penn signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Ministry of Health in Botswana. This memorandum was later amended to include the Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital (NRH) and district hospitals in Botswana. In the same year, Penn received funding from the US Public Health Service through PEPFAR (President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief) to support clinical care and education in Botswana. This PEPFAR program currently supports eleven full-time Botswana-UPenn Partnership physicians in Botswana, (seven in Gaborone and four in Francistown). These physicians provide inpatient care on the medical wards at PMH and NRH, HIV care in the outpatient clinics, and outreach mentoring and teaching to as many as nine surrounding district hospitals. Penn physicians also participate in a referral clinic for complicated HIV/TB co-infected patients. Penn physicians are directly involved in training local providers through daily "bedside" teaching and supervision of four weekly educational conferences at PMH and NRH. Additionally, they are large contributors at the weekly convocation of the physicians staffing local clinics that refer their patients to PMH.
Through May 2009, Penn medical students (between 24 and 36 per year) participated in classic Medicine Sub-Internships at PMH. From May 2009 on, that clinical experience has been changing as Penn explores ways to have students increasingly supervised by national physicians, thus making this less a conventional HUP/Penn-type experience. The goal is balance between the need for student supervision and the desire to provide a more uniquely Botswana experience. Although slight variations may occur from one rotation to another, the following can now be expected:
- students will spend ~4 weeks at Princess Marina Hospital; they may be assigned to work with a Medical Officer (local resident) as their supervisor on the ward, rather than a Penn resident
- students may spend some of their time in regional hospitals or community outreach
- students may have opportunities to participate in electives (e.g. dermatology clinic, MDR TB clinic, etc.)
- this experience earns 4 weeks of away elective credit but is 7 weeks in length
At PMH, a wide variety of medical problems are encountered and managed; including HIV disease and its many attendant co-morbidities, tuberculosis in all clinical variations, meningitis, cryptococcal disease, congestive heart failure, rheumatic valvular heart disease, renal failure, DKA, severe atherosclerotic disease including hypertensive urgencies/emergencies, snake bites, and hematologic and solid organ malignancies. Students become proficient in the art and skill of physical diagnosis and in establishing a diagnosis in the absence of the many supporting laboratory and radiologic tests available at Penn. Students may have the opportunity to perform a number of procedures under close supervision, including lumbar puncture, phlebotomy, IV catheter insertion, thorocentesis, paracentesis, and lymph node fine needle aspiration. Housing is provided. Pre-requisite to this experience is a Penn sub-internship in medicine, pediatrics, or emergency medicine or a Penn externship. Students are admitted by lottery. The Global Health Programs office sends out lottery information to the MS3 class in the late fall each year.
- Funding- Partial funding ($1700 to be applied towards covered expenses, including travel to Gaborone and board) is available to all students who are registered and who meet Global Health Programs funding guidelines.
- See Botswana General Information section above for important resources, including essential Checklist
In addition to the medicine elective in Gaborone, pursued by the largest number of Penn medical students, a few students have been able to get involved in other fields, including pediatrics. Such opportunities are not always available and usually require special arrangements by the student.
When reviewing the student reports below, please keep in mind that, this program has changed over time. The most recent reports should be the most relevant to the type of experience future students will have.
- Penn Med Students Reports & Advice, Gaborone: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009
- Penn Med Students Reports & Advice, Botswana UPenn Partnership CHOP: 2010
Penn MS3/4 students may contact Dr. Carrie Kovarik to apply for this opportunity. Students rotate on the dermatology service in Botswana, working with one to two senior dermatology residents, as well as Dr. Gilberto, a Cuban dermatologist. Students rotate with the resident in the clinic at Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone, where they see dermatology patients, as well as on the inpatient wards for consultations. They also accompany residents on outreach visits to the district hospitals that surround Gaborone, in order to see dermatology patients in lower resource, and more remote, settings.
The students' primary role is to learn about skin diseases in a developing country, with an emphasis on HIV-related dermatology. They learn how to take care of patients in a limited resource setting, as well as in a new cultural environment. In addition, they take patient histories, interview patients about their skin diseases, and assist the resident in documentation. Medical students will not perform any invasive procedures while on this rotation.
Typical daily schedule is as follows:
- Medicine intake rounds M-F at 7:30 in the male medical ward
- Medicine and pediatric inpatient consults M-F – these will typically come after intake rounds if there is a newly admitted patient with a rash or by cell phone/word of mouth.
- Outpatient consults M-F: These will typically come from Baylor (for pediatric cases), the IDCC (for adult cases), and other specialty clinics.
- Dermatology clinic T, W, F mornings/early afternoon: Students work with the resident(s) and Dr. Gilberto to see dermatology patients. Clinic typically start at 9AM, after intake rounds.
- Outreach clinics: Students typically participate in an outreach clinic every Thursday. There are three main outreach sites, all within driving distance of Gaborone.
- Dermatopathology review: Students will typically go to read biopsy slides at the National Lab with the resident and the pathologist on Mondays or after clinic.
- Penn Med Students Reports & Advice, Telemedicine/Teledermatology: 2009
- Penn Med Students Reports & Advice, Botswana UPenn Partnership: Dermatology: 2011, 2010
Since 2010, the Botswana UPenn Partnership (BUP) has been identifying exciting opportunities for our MS1 students to participate in summer research in Botswana. All opportunities require a commitment of a minimum of 4 weeks and the majority require 7-8 weeks (details will be worked out with potential mentors but the more time a student is willing to devote, the more likely that the student will be matched to a project). Please click on the years below to read about the experiences that students have had in the past.
Each year since 1979, The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship has selected four senior medical students to spend three months working as Schweitzer Fellows at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon on clinical rotations. Fellows work as junior physicians, supervised by Schweitzer Hospital medical staff. Fellows generally spend the full rotation on either the Pediatrics or Medicine service.
- Eligibility: Medical students who are fluent in French and who have completed their third year
- Time Periods Available (3 month commitment): May/June/July or August/September/October; dates are not flexible. Students who cannot guarantee full participation during these dates should not apply.
- Funding: The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship provides complete funding for Fellows (airfare, room, board, immunizations)
- Application: Applications for the following summer are available in the fall. Check the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship website for application and more information.
- General Info
- Adakum Education Foundation
- Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research
- Noguchi Memorial Institute
- Sickle-Cell Anemia Project
- Unite for Sight
We are making available an online copy of No Worries! The Indispensable Insiders' Guide to Ghana. It is not protected by copyright. You can review it online now – it is more than 200 pages so you probably should not print it in its entirety – and you may wish to purchase one when you are in Ghana. In addition, you may be interested in purchasing the Lonely Planet Guide to West Africa which covers Ghana.
The Adakum Educational Foundation (www.admef.org) is a New York-based 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to providing basic educational opportunities and health care for poor and disadvantaged children and their parents in Ghana and other parts of Africa. The Adakum Educational Foundation (AEF) would welcome Penn medical students interested in volunteering to work in Accra in a school clinic and in the community under the supervision of the school volunteer doctor. Currently, AEF support goes to a number of programs, including:
- Direct support of the L&A Memorial Academy (click to view video), serving 300-400 boys and girls from low-income families
- Education workshops for teachers
- Monthly community environmental clean-ups to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds
- A school based health clinic at L&A Memorial Academy.
- St. Nicholas Primary School, located at Nkotunsua-Dunkwa in the Obuasi/Ashanti Region
- The Adullam Orphanage at Obuasi, the only recognized orphanage in the Obuasi/Ashanti Region. Founded by an Australian minister, Rev. Louise Timothy, the orphanage houses more than 200 children; some abandoned at birth, others whose parents who died of AIDS, and still others who are children of single destitute mothers.
Volunteer Opportunities: There are opportunities for Penn students to participate in a wide variety of activities, including:
- community/public health
- identify health resources in the region
- field studies for malaria/mosquito control
- field studies for waterborne disease control
- clean up projects
- obtain medical histories for students, faculty, and staff (MS1)
- screening, diagnosis, treatment, referral (MS3, 4)
- health education
- lesson preparation for classroom and community
- demonstrations (e.g. best use of mosquito nets)
- general education
- assist in teaching biology, chemistry, physics, and math
Accommodations: shared (2 people) rooms, including three meals/day, are available at a daily rate of $30
More information and Application: Contact Nancy Biller, Global Health Programs
- Penn Med Students Reports & Advice: 2009
Ghana: Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research (KCCR), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi
KCCR is a newly built institute located on the grounds of the KNUST, with modern facilities including cafeteria and dormitory. The KCCR is a joint effort of the KNUST and the Bernard Nocht Institute of Tropical Medicine in Hamburg (the Bernard Nocht Institute is a famous long established center for the study of tropical diseases). The KCCR occupies new facilities that were donated by the Volkswagen Foundation. The programs are supported by peer reviewed grants and are focused on infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, other parasitic diseases, and Buruli ulcer. KCCR offers a variety of fascinating projects for participation by Penn students, particularly those interested in tropical medicine. To be considered, students must be prepared to commit a minimum of six weeks to an ongoing research project at KCCR. Interested students should apply to Global Health Programs and selected candidates will be put in contact with the director of the KCCR to negotiate specific assignments. Support for housing and other arrangements will be provided by the staff of the Sickle Cell Center which has its major clinical activities at the major hospital in Kumasi.
The Noguchi Memorial Institute was founded in 1979 by a donation from the Japanese government, and houses a variety of programs of biomedical research, including studies of HIV/AIDS, poliomyelitis, and yellow fever. The Institute will accept students who are prepared to commit a minimum of six weeks to an ongoing project in one of their laboratories. The institute is on the campus of the University of Ghana (the leading university in Ghana) and students would likely be housed in the international dormitory. The administrative and laboratory staff of the Sickle Cell Project are located at the Institute and would aid Penn students to make arrangements for housing and other living accommodations. Interested students should apply to Global Health Programs; selected candidates will be put in touch with personnel at the Noguchi Institute to negotiate specific assignments.
Dr. Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Sickle Cell Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is also the Director of the Sickle Cell Research Program housed in the Noguchi Memorial Institute of the University of Ghana in Accra. The Institute was established in 1979 in a building funded by the government of Japan to serve as a memorial for Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, a Japanese medical scientist who died in Accra in May, 1928 while investigating yellow fever. The Institute trains graduate students in research and is a medical research center with specialized laboratories and services focused on Ghana’s needs. It facilitates medical cooperation between Ghanaian and Japanese scientists. The current director of the institute, Dr. David Ofori-Agyei, is extremely supportive of hosting Penn’s medical students.
Penn students can work in the hematology lab in Accra or at the Sickle Cell Center housed at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi where outreach, screening of newborns, treatment, and data collection are performed. Local coordinators (Tina Ayeh in Accra and Robert Twene in Kumasi) provide oversight. Dr. Ohene-Frempong has regular contact with Ghanaian coordinators and visits the sites periodically.
In Accra, there are three hostels available on the campus of the University of Ghana. In Kumasi, students can stay at the graduate/medical students hostel on the hospital campus or they can be housed in reasonably priced hotels situated close to the hospital.
Please note that each student who participates, may be required to provide $500 - $1000 support to the project office in Ghana, due to the considerable investment that the host site makes to support and mentor the visiting student. Details on these costs and applications should be discussed directly with Dr. Ohene-Frempong.
Unite For Sight opportunities exist in Accra, Asikuma Breman, and Tamale. Student volunteers are immersed in international health and development programs while providing eye care to patients living in extreme poverty. The clinic’s eye doctors diagnose and treat eye disease in the field, and surgical patients are brought to the eye clinic for surgery. Patients receive free surgery funded by Unite For Sight so that no patient remains blind due to lack of funds. Volunteers assist the ophthalmic nurses in all aspects of the eye care programs. They take patient history, test visual acuity, assist the eye nurse with the examination, distribute medication and eyeglasses prescribed by the eye nurse, provide eye health education in the villages and schools, and help with the coordination of patient surgeries. Volunteers also have an opportunity to observe the surgeries provided by the Ghanaian ophthalmologists at the eye clinic. A volunteer’s requirements include collecting eyeglasses, fundraising, 2-3 days of training by an eye doctor, completion of an online eye health course, completion of cultural competency and eye training, completion of required reading and videos for orientation, vaccinations, physical exam, VISA, and registration with the U.S. Embassy. Complete details about the volunteer requirements can be seen online. Links to videos:
- 9-minute video online about the Unite For Sight program in Ghana
- Ophthalmologist volunteer discusses volunteering in Ghana with Unite For Sight
There are no program fees per se. Costs to the student are limited to those associated with travel including airfare, transportation to site (~$50), room and board (combined ~$25/day), visa, medical prophylaxis, etc. The student is also required to collect eyeglasses and fundraise (see above).
- Application Process If interested, complete the online application
Penn's Population Studies Center has an ongoing panel study in Malawi that began in 1998. The project’s general aims are to examine the role of social networks in changing attitudes and behavior regarding family size, family planning, religion, and HIV/AIDS in Malawi. The project focuses on two key empirical questions: the roles of social interactions in (1) the acceptance (or rejection) of modern contraceptive methods and of smaller ideal family size; and (2) the diffusion of knowledge of AIDS symptoms and transmission mechanisms and the evaluation of acceptable strategies of protection against AIDS. Data collected at the household level include: husband/wife surveys, adolescent surveys, verbal and migration autopsies, qualitative interviews, biomarkers (HIV/STIs), GPS/GIS, and ethnographies. In 2006 we will collect anthropometric measurements (BMI) to examine the consequences of morbidity and mortality on household coping mechanisms. In 2005 the project began a new study on how religious organizations have the potential to be either partners in or obstacles to combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This study will continue in 2006. More information can be found at the Malawi Project website.
Between mid-May and mid-August of 2006, opportunities will be available for a few Penn medical students interested in social science research and data collection. The role of each medical student will be determined by his or her research interest and preceptor expertise. Students will have the opportunity to assist in the implementation and management of research as well as focus on their own research goals. Conference presentations and journal publications are strongly encouraged and supported by the team. Preference is give to students who can make a 10 to 12-week commitment. Some exceptions may be made for first-year students willing to spend a full 8 weeks on the project. Though students will interact with local clinics and Ministry of Health officials on a regular basis, full-time clinical work is not available. Students will live with the research team in three rural areas. The research team will consist of social science professors from Penn, UCLA, UT-Austin, and Hebrew University, along with several PhD students in demography, sociology, and economics programs from various programs worldwide, and a Malawian field staff of up to 90 individuals.
- Funding The Population Studies Center will provide room and board and local transportation to the worksite in Malawi and Global Health Programs will provide $1700 to be used towards roundtrip airfare and medical prophylaxis. It is anticipated that the student will have additional personal expenses of approximately $500.
- Application Process
- Penn Med Students Reports & Advice: 2006
CAPRISA is an AIDS research center that is located at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, in Durban, South Africa. It was founded by the Universities of Natal, Cape Town, and the Western Cape, the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. CAPRISA is supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The three main goals of CAPRISA are the research, prevention, and treatment of HIV/AIDS, building research infrastructure and capacity, and training more researchers in South Africa.
CAPRISA's director is Dr. Salim Karim, an internationally known AIDS researcher at the University of Kwazulu-Natal. Dr. Karim has offered to consider selected Penn medical students who wish to dedicate 6-12 months to a research project on AIDS, to be conducted in South Africa under the direction of one of the CAPRISA participating investigators. This is an exciting opportunity, probably unique in the world, since it combines outstanding research supervision with an exposure to a country with one of the highest prevalences of HIV/AIDS in the world.
- Funding CAPRISA provides stipends for trainees. Interested students should contact Global Health Programs at Penn.
Teule Hospital is an Anglican Church Hospital, designated by the government as the District Hospital for Muheza district. Muheza is a small district town in northeastern Tanzania, 40 kms inland from the port of Tanga and about 100 kms south of the Kenyan border. It lies at the foot of the East Usambara mountains on the edge of the coastal plain. The climate is HOT and STICKY, especially between December and March. Long rains usually come between March and May and short ones in October and November but yearly variations are ever present. From June to September it can get a bit cool – one may even need a sweater, but not often. About 60% of the population are Muslims and 40% Christian. The hospital functions in English (notes written in English) and all qualified staff can speak it, although most communication is in Kiswahili, the main language in the country. Very few patients speak English; most speak at least one of many local languages, in addition to Kiswahili. Muheza lies on the main tar road from Dar es Salaam to Tanga and therefore enjoys a reasonable bus service which takes 4-5 hours. You can also arrive by bus from Moshi / Arusha (6-7 hours) or by plane from Dar / Zanzibar to Tanga.
The hospital has 330 beds and usually has many more patients than those beds can accommodate. The population served is about 280,000 in a 5000 square kilometer area. It provides primary health care for the town and acts as a referral center for the 46 outlying village dispensaries and five health centers. A large number of patients attend daily in the adult and maternal and child health clinics.
There are doctor-led clinics in medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, palliative care, and pediatrics. There is also an HIV / palliative care center which now has access to free anti-retrovirals (via one of the American programs). There is an X-ray department and an ultrasound machine. The pathology laboratory performs microscopy, hematology, some biochemistry, bacterial cultures and CD4 counts. There are dental, eye and physio services. There is always a shortage of equipment, drugs and dressings, although not as bad as at some other hospitals in Tanzania thanks to support from the UK. Volunteer medical students should bring goggles for eye protection, as even watching invasive procedures risks eye splashes. Gloves are available. There is chloroquine–resistant falciparum malaria. Mefloquine, doxycycline or malarone are recommended. Insect repellent is advised, as are bed nets (supplied). Students should obtain advice for PEP and arrive with a supply of antiretrovirals. Students who have needle stick injuries must contact the physicians in charge right away. They will receive counseling and should have an HIV test. Yellow fever certificate is mandatory, as is the usual vaccination for tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis A+B etc. Rabies is endemic but uncommon.
Penn third/fourth year medical students who will have completed their Penn Sub-I before traveling, may apply for a 4-6 week clinical experience at Teule Hospital. Students are permitted to make their own plan to participate in services that include physician-led clinics (surgery, OB/GYN, medicine, diabetes, and HIV), the rare opportunity to "run" a ward (on your own with a nurse to help for the translation and there would always be someone to ask questions if you are not sure what to do). Students may also catch babies on the labor ward or go out on the mobile to do clinic (child health and maternity) under a tree. Finally, there is the Diana Centre for HIV and Palliative care (services include clinics, ward rounds and home visits. Most students spend a week at the Diana centre and then spread themselves out doing a bit of everything. Students are encouraged to do a project of some sort.
Students will have the opportunity to see patients with many conditions. HIV dominates with TB, PCP, cryptococcal, KS, etc. Malaria on the pediatrics wards is a close second. Diabetes, heart disease, HT, COPD, hydroceles, hernias, cancer, meningitis, pneumonia , typhoid, cholera, rabies, tetanus, etc are all at Teule.
For more detailed information on medical prophylaxis, travel, visas, accommodations, living expenses, dress code, travel tips, and more, please see the Teule Hospital Information Document. In addition, you can get a feel for life in and around Teule by reading newsletters from Dr. Edmonds: December 2009, June 2009
- Application: To apply, please prepare a 1-page statement of interest and attach this, at least six months before you hope to be in Tanzania, along with your resume, in an email to Global Health Programs. Please specify the dates when you are willing to participate. Note that this program fills up early, on a first-come, first-served basis. May through September are the months most difficult to get. Your chances are better if you can be available some time between October and April.
- Penn Med Students Reports & Advice: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007
- Botswana: Pediatrics @ Princess Marina Hospital (2011, 2007)
- Botswana: Baylor Children's Center of Excellence (2009, 2008)
- Cameroon: ASCOVIME (2012)
- Cameroon: Kolofata Hospital (2007)
- Côte d'Ivoire: HELINA Cote DIvoire (2009)
- Egypt: Alexandria U Medical School/El Hadara U Hospital (2008)
- Ethiopia: Black Lion Hospital (2007)
- Ethiopia: Himalayan Cataract Project Addis Ababa (2013)
- Gambia: Power Up Gambia (2010, 2009)
- Ghana: Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital Ghan (2010)
- Ghana: Neurosurgery @ Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (2005)
- Ghana: Sharecare (2009)
- Kenya: AIDS Research & Family Care Clinic in Mombasa (2005)
- Kenya: Tenwek Hospital Bomet (2014)
- Liberia: Saving Mothers Liberia (2009)
- Mali: Centre pour le Developpement des Vaccins Bamako (2011)
- Malawi: Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative Lilongwe (2011)
- Malawi: CDC (2007)
- Malawi: Global Health Equities Track (2011)
- Malawi: Partners in Health (2012)
- Malawi: World Altering Medicine Kabudula (2012)
- Nigeria: PEPFAR (2007)
- Rwanda: WE-ACT/Women's Equity in Access to Care & Treatment (2008)
- Sierra Leone: Kings Sierra Leone Partnership (2013)
- South Africa: Cape Shoulder Institute (2010)
- South Africa: Orbis South Cape Town (2013)
- South Africa: Philani Child Health Nutrition Project (2009)
- South Africa: Mothers2Mothers Cape Town (2011)
- South Africa: Mselini Hospital (2006)
- South Africa: University of Stellenbosch (2013, 2010)
- Uganda: AVSI (2007)
- Uganda: Bwindi Community Health Centre (2006)
- Uganda: Marekere Infectious Disease Institute (2009)
- Uganda: Ruharo Eye Centre (2011)
- Uganda: TASO (2006)
- Uganda: Tuberculosis Surveillance Project (2009)
- Tanzania: John Hopkins Public Health Iringa (2011)
- Tanzania: Partnership for the Rapid Elimination of Trachoma (2009)
- Tanzania: Tanzania Volunteer Experiences (2012)
- Zambia: CIDRZ (2011, 2008, 2006)
Last updated: March 24, 2014Top ↑