Danish Connection: Visit to the University of Copenhagen
A/Professor Kirsty Foster, Associate Dean International, and Dr Fawzia Huq, Senior Lecturer in Medical Education are visiting colleagues at the University of Copenhagen this week to strengthen our student exchange partnership following signing of an agreement in December 2014. Three students a year from Sydney Medical School will have the opportunity to spend their elective in Copenhagen at one of Europe’s oldest universities founded in 1479. The Danish team are keen to develop electives in practical anatomy and clinical skills in their well equipped simulation centre.
Prof Foster also met with the Study Directors for Public Health Sciences (Prof Lisbeth Knudsen), for Health informatics (A/Prof Lars Kayser) and with Prof Flemming Konradsen, Director of the Copenhagen School for Global Health. There are also opportunities for Masters and PhD exchanges and for Sydney students to participate in some of University of Copenhagen’s on-line Massive On-line Open Courses (MOOCs) including "An introduction to Global Health" at www.coursera.org/course/globalhealthintro
Prof Foster and Dr Huq at the Panum Insitute University of Copenhagen.
With L to R: Suzanne Andersen, International Relation Officer, Eva Maryl, International Relations Officer, Fawia Huq, Kirsty Foster, and Prof Jorgen Olsen, Study Director for Medicine.
Practical Clinical Research in Hand Hygiene in Vietnam recognised by Asia Pacific Hand Hygiene Society of Infection Control
A hand hygiene campaign at Hung Vuong Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City has been recognized with the 2015 Asia Pacific Hand Hygiene Excellence Award.
Dr Phan Thi Hang, Head of Infection Control Department of Hung Vuong Hospital received the news from the expert panel from the Asia Pacific Society of Infection Control after an audit of the hospital. Hung Vuong Hospital is now considered a leader in the implementation strategy of hand hygiene campaigns in addressing the World Health Organisation’s First Global Patient Safety Challenge: Clean Care is Safer Care.
The Hoc Mai Foundation awarded a research grant to implement the protocol “Effectiveness of education, observation and feedback to hand hygiene compliance in healthcare workers” as a follow up to the “Hand hygiene programme to reduce hospital-acquired infection” research project. Professor Peter McMinn provided Hang a better understanding of hand hygiene in reducing hospital acquired infections, when Hang participated in a Hoc Mai fellowship in 2011. Subsequently, Dr Christopher Gordon from Sydney Nursing School mentored the research team in the development of a successful intervention study to improve hand hygiene compliance rates in the hospital during Hoc Mai’s Practical Clinical Research workshops in 2013 and 2014.
Dr Hang and her team were invited to the Asia Pacific Society of Infection Control Conference (APSIC) 2015 in Taipei, Taiwan in March 2015 to receive the award.
I would like to express my gratitude to all of my tutors and to Hoc Mai team, who helped me and our team a lot. I understand that we are just at the beginning; I need to study more and share our experiences to other hospitals in order to improve hospital acquired infection rates in Viet Nam hospitals.
Dr Phan Thi Hang
Hung Vuong Hospital Hand Hygiene Study Group during Hoc Mai Foundation’s Practical Clinical Research Workshop in Ho Chi Minh City in November 2014 with Dr Phan Thi Hang (3rd from right), Hoc Mai PCR Tutors Dr Christopher Gordon and Dr Christine Smyth.
Hand Hygiene Study Group of Hung Vuong Hospital with expert reviewers from Asia Pacific Society of Infection Control.
Medical Students in Bangkok for Infectious Diseases Competition
A team of four Sydney Medical School medical students recently represented the faculty in the 4th Siriraj International Medical Microbiology, Parasitology and Immunology Competition (SIMPIC) in Bangkok between 30th January to 2nd February 2015. The participation of this team was made possible with the generous support from the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity at the University of Sydney.
Andrew Wallace, Mandy Wang, Marianna Rudakova and Namraj Goire went up against 35 other teams from medical schools around the region in a gruelling 1st and 2nd round. The team did a fantastic job in the competition which included laboratory examinations, multiple choice questions and short answer quizzes before losing out to last year’s competition winners from Universitas Gadjah Mada for a place in the semi-finals. Andrew finished the competition with a Silver Medal for achieving one of the highest individual scores in the 1st round. Mahidol University emerged as the eventual champion for this year. Well done to all!
“The academic standard of expertise was almost intimidatingly sophisticated at times, which allowed students to display the full breadth of their knowledge. As a team we were proud to reach the second round, and felt that we were able to demonstrate our own considerable knowledge.” - Andrew
“The activities developed our communication and team work skills, especially as we were placed in groups with people from all around the world. It's fantastic to establish these friendships because in one way or another, they are our future colleagues in this international world.” – Mandy
“The SIMPIC experience in Thailand exceeded all of my expectations. The incredibly well-run event was entirely student organized!” - Marianna
“The highlight of SIMPIC for me was the workshop organised by the Faculty of Infectious Diseases and the senior students of Siriraj Hospital wherein we had to investigate the outbreak of a communicable disease at the fictional metropolis ‘Simpicity’. The outbreak was eventually revealed to be caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei and our team’s management plan, where I cited Australia’s experience with meliodosis, was judged best by the organisers.” – Namraj
Launch of WHO Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases 2014 report
NCDs (Non-Communicable Diseases) such as heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases, are the biggest killer on all continents, except Africa, accounting for 68% of the world’s deaths, more than 40% of which were premature (under the age of 70). Three quarters of NCD-related mortality is now in low and middle income countries.
On 19 January, the WHO launched the Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases 2014, the second in a triennial series tracking progress in the prevention and control of NCDs. This report is based around the nine voluntary targets including a 25% relative reduction in overall mortality from the four main NCDs (the South East Asian Region (SEAR) declared a tenth target of reducing household air pollution); specific targets focusing on improvements in exposure to behavioural and biological risk factors; and targets around national systems responses, including drug therapy to prevent heart attacks and strokes, and medicines and technologies for treatment. The SEAR regional action plan focuses on four strategic areas: (i) advocacy and partnerships; (ii) reducing exposure to risk factors; (iii) strengthening health systems; and (iv) strengthening surveillance, monitoring and research.
Timor Leste undertook a National Survey for Non-Communicable Disease Risk Factors and Injuries and met with Dr Lubna Ishaq Bhatti, WHO Epidemiologist for the Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases (PND) in early February 2015, to reconcile their NCD survey data and present at the New Delhi conference. This survey will provide data on NCDs to assist Timor Leste in developing strategies to prevent early mortality.
Partnerships strengthened in the Philippines
Associate Professor Kirsty Foster (Associate Dean International, Sydney Medical School) and Dr Giselle Manalo (Sub Dean International, Sydney School of Public Health) were in the Philippines from 27-30 January 2015, to formalise our new partnership with the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERMMMCI). The team met with Dr Jennifer Nailes, Vice President for Research and Director for Education and Training, at the Research Institute for Health Sciences, UERMMMCI and signed a partnership agreement to facilitate research, education and training linkages between the University of Sydney and UERMMMCI. The agreement also includes staff and student mobility.
This week also marked the end of an eight-week placement for four University of Sydney Master of International Public Health students and a four-week placement for two Master of Indigenous Health students, who undertook a Classroom in the Field (CIF) program in the Philippines. CIF aims to provide students with a contextual understanding of “on the ground” approaches to international health issues. It also aims to provide insight into community-based educational programmes and community mobilization, the complexities of the Philippine health system and the implementation of health programmes at the national, regional, municipal, city and village levels. Students gained enormous insight through placements at the Health Human Resource Development Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH HHRDB), University of the Philippines (UP) Manila, Zuellig Family Foundation and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Philippines. A/Prof Foster was also able to meet CIF partners from the DOH HHRDB and UP Manila.
Grant success with FAPESP Brazil
The University of Sydney has received five grants from the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) in the recent call for proposals for the SPRINT - São Paulo Researchers in International Collaboration. This strategy was designed to encourage and promote the advancement of scientific research through the engagement of researchers affiliated with research institutions in the State of São Paulo with researcher partners abroad.
Of the five grants, four of these were awarded to researchers collaborating on health related projects in the Sydney Medical School, George Institute for Global Health and Faculty of Health Sciences.
- Professor William Tarnow-Mordi who will collaborate with Celso Moura Rebello from the Instituto Israelita de Ensino e Pesquisa Albert Einstein (IIEPAE) to hold a workshop in San Paulo to plan an international cluster crossover randomised trial of the comparative effectiveness of two probiotics in preventin necrotizing enterocolitis in neonatalintensive care units.
- Dr Paulo Ferreira from the Discipline of Physiotherapy in the Faculty of Health Sciences, who will be collaborating with Fabio Santos de Lyra from the Faculdade de Ciências Tecnologia Presidente Prudente ( UNESP) on a multicultural project to investigate the relationship between obesity, physical activity, and low back pain.
- Associate Professor Manuela Ferreira from the George Institute for Global Health who will undertake research into cardiovascular complications of surgery for musculoskeletal conditions with Lais Helena Camacho Navarro from the Faculdade de Medicina Botucatu (UNESP).
- Professor Chris Maher from the George Institute for International Health who will be collaborating with Leonardo Oliveira Pena Costa from the Universidade Cidade de São Paulo to study the efficacy of the McKenzie method in patients with chronic no-specific low back pain: a randomised placebo controlled trial.
Professor Stephen Colagiuri to chair a Forum on Diabetes in Qatar
The second World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) will take place on 17th and 18th February 2015 in Qatar. Professor Stephen Colagiuri will be chairing one of six fora, as a recognized expert in diabetes.
WHO estimates that there are 347 million people worldwide (approx. 8.5% of the adult population) with diabetes and that by 2030 it will be the seventh leading cause of death. In 2004, an estimated 3.4 million died from the consequences of diabetes and over 80 percent of these deaths occurred in low-income and middle-income countries. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are increasing. The common consequences of diabetes include damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. The economic burden of diabetes is immense and in 2013 diabetes will take up 11% of worldwide health expenditure – $548 billion. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented (or at least delayed) by a number of simple lifestyle changes: remaining physically active, eating healthily, and not smoking. In addition there are effective treatments for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, including insulin, other oral and injectable medicines, self-management support, blood pressure control and foot care.
The Forum will make actionable recommendations to enable policymakers to more effectively prevent diabetes within their populations, and also to ensure effective treatment for those with the illness.
Stephen Colagiuri is the Professor of Metabolic Health and Director of Boden Institute for Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders at the University of Sydney. He is also Co-Director of the Boden Institute’s World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity.
Professor Colagiuri has also been asked to join a small group of international advisors to develop the Qatar National Diabetes Strategy, which is being done in conjunction with Hamad Medical Corporation.
New ACFID University Network Committee representative A/Prof Joel Negin
Associate Professor Joel Negin, the Director of Research in the Sydney School of Public Health, is the University of Sydney representative on the ACFID University Network Committee (AUNC). ACFID is the Australian Council for International Development with the AUNC consisting of an Australian based network of practitioners, researchers and evaluators working in international development.
Joel will contribute his expertise to build strong collaborative partnerships between sectors and to cultivate working relationships between organisations working to overcome poverty and injustice. The network concentrates on four areas including research, partnership and collaboration, development practice and training.
Welcome to Australia Awards Scholarship students
The Sydney Medical School welcomed 14 students awarded Australia Awards Scholarships today, as part of their orientation to the University, managed by the Australia Awards Office in the International Services portfolio.
This cohort of students are studying either Masters level or PhD programs, including courses such as the Master of International Public Health, Master of Health Policy, Master of Medicine (Clinical Epidemiology), Master of HIV, STIs and Sexual Health and Master of Medicine (Infection and Immunity). The study and research opportunities provided by Australia Awards Scholarships develop skills and knowledge of individuals to drive change and contribute to the development outcomes of their own country. Amongst this cohort, students are from Indonesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Fiji, Zambia, Namibia, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea.
The orientation program included a course on "Advanced Skills for Academic Success" and introduction to the Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA).
Australia Awards Scholarships (AAS) are a highly-valued form of development cooperation between Australia and partner countries with which Australia has a bilateral aid program. AAS provide partner countries with the opportunity to strengthen its human resource capacity through offering scholarships to individuals within key institutions, to undertake tertiary studies in Australia in areas relevant to the development needs of the country.
Scholarships are primarily for postgraduate study, however a limited number of undergraduate scholarships are available in specific countries. Applicants for AAS must satisfy both the general eligibility criteria and specific criteria established for each country. For further information regarding eligibility criteria and AAS scholarship benefits, please visit the Australia Awards Scholarships website.
Those wishing to apply for the AAS program should contact the Australia Award Post in their home country.
Prospective scholars interested in applying for Australia Awards Scholarships are also encouraged to view the University of Sydney course guide here: http://sydney.edu.au/future-students/documents/international/UniSydney-AusAwards-AsiaCourseGuide.pdf
New SSEAC country coordinators from Sydney Medical School
Professor Lyndal Trevena and Associate Professor Kirsty Foster will lead the Timor Leste and Vietnam Country Groups, on behalf of the Sydney South East Asia Centre (SSEAC) at the University of Sydney, for the period 2015-2016.
Lyndal and Kirsty will bring together colleagues from across the University with an interest and expertise in research, learning and student mobility in Timor Leste and Vietnam. They both hope to foster cross disciplinary projects and represent the University in country, drawing from their connections and expertise in family medicine and maternal and child health.
SSEAC hosts 10 country groups at the University of Sydney, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia and Brunei, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam. The Sydney Medical School has members registered on all of these groups, representing our strong engagement in the Asia Pacific region.
Building health capacity in Fiji
A newly refurbished centre dedicated to improving the health of women and children was today opened in Vatukarasa on Fiji’s Coral Coast by Fijian Prime Minister Rear Admiral (rtd) J.V.Bainimarama.
The centre, which will employ a doctor, pharmacist and community nurse, is an initiative of the Fijian Ministry of Health and has strong support from Fiji National University and the University of Sydney.
“The new centre will deliver high level primary healthcare to the local community and I am delighted that the University of Sydney will be part of its ongoing work,” said Kirsty Foster, Head of the University of Sydney’s Office for Global Health.
The centre’s AUD $160,000 refurbishment is part of wider vision to strengthen and support primary health services in Vatukarasa aiming to reduce deaths and illness among mothers, babies and young children in the surrounding regional community.
The stakeholders' long term vision is to develop a demonstration joint teaching facility between the Fiji National University and the University of Sydney.
This will strengthen and support primary health services in Vatukarasa, assist in developing interventions to reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases, and provide an opportunity for medical students to experience primary care in a village setting.
Dr Adrian Sheen, Lecturer in General Practice at University of Sydney says: “To be able to work in such a village will be a unique opportunity and experience for both doctors and students. It is gratifying to have not only support of the community but also the local resorts. Everyone is keen to make this the best possible health facility”.
Later this year, University of Sydney medical students will be able to undertake elective placements at the centre and experience maternal and child health programs first hand.
The University of Sydney’s medical and health faculties will continue capacity building linkages with Fiji in 2015, including research and education projects in the quality use of medicines in children, simulation technologies in education, pregnancy planning, and maternal and fetal outcomes, and dental research.
Doctors and medical students interested in learning more about clinical and placement opportunities at the Vatukarasa Health Centre, should contact Dr Adrian Sheen on: +61 402 753 764 or
APRU spotlight on University of Sydney's Dr Mu Li
Dr. Mu Li is an associate professor in international public health at the Sydney School of Public Health and Director of Public Health Strategic Program, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney. She is a recipient of the Endeavour Executive Fellowship Award 2014 from the Australian Government, worked as a visiting fellow at Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing China, and Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland.
A trained physician, Dr Li’s major research interests are in public health nutrition, including maternal and child nutrition, micronutrient deficiency disorders, childhood obesity prevention and public health program evaluation.
Read more about Dr Li, and other APRU (Association of Pacific Rim Universities) interest areas in the APRU Global Health Program Newsletter #5.
Practical Clinical Research Workshops in Vietnam
A team of Hoc Mai Foundation volunteers and academics from the University of Sydney conducted Practical Clinical Research Workshops in Hanoi on 30-31 October and in Ho Chi Minh City on 3-4 November 2014. The workshops formed part of the annual trip of the Hoc Mai Australia-Vietnam Medical Foundation to Vietnam to improve practical clinical research capacity across Vietnam.
This year’s workshops built on existing research projects of Vietnamese doctors and medical practitioners from Hanoi Medical University and Hung Vuong Hospital (HCMC). New groups of doctors from Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Da Nang Hospital Children and Women, Bach Mai Hospital, and University of Medicine and Pharmacy (HCMC) also joined the workshops. Hoc Mai Patron, The Honourable Dame Professor Marie Bashir also conducted workshops for groups of young psychiatrists from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.
The workshops are aimed at building the capacity of Vietnamese medical professionals towards building research protocols and conducting ethical and meaningful research through mentorship from staff from the University. Four of the research projects in 2014 were awarded research grants of AU$2000 each to fund the conduct of their research. The funded research groups shared their research experience with the new groups and presented the developments in their projects, identifying barriers and challenges, which needed to be addressed.
Practical Clinical Research Team from the University included The Hon Dame Prof Marie Bashir, Prof Jonathan Morris, Assoc Prof Kirsty Foster, Assoc Prof Christine Roberts, Assoc Prof Catherine Hawke, Dr Christopher Gordon, Dr Diana Benn, Dr Christine Smyth, Dr Manuela Ferreira and Ms Sarah Winter.
Participants of the 2014 Practical Clinical Research Workshop in Hanoi with tutors and mentors from the University of Sydney and Hoc Mai Foundation.
Research group from Bach Mai Hospital, Hanoi presenting their research topic.
Research group from Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy with Assoc Prof Kirsty Foster and Prof Jonathan Morris.
Research team from Da Nang Hospital for Women and Children with Ms Sarah Winters (3rd from right) and Assoc Prof Christine Roberts (back centre).
Professor Marie Bashir and a group of young psychiatrists in HCMC.
Participants of the 2014 Practical Clinical Research Workshop in HCMC with tutors and mentors from the University of Sydney and Hoc Mai Foundation.
Hand hygiene research group from Hung Vuong Hospital, HCMC with Dr Christopher Gordon (2nd from left) and Dr Christine Smyth (right).
Hoc Mai Annual Alumni Events in Vietnam
Annual Hoc Mai alumni events were recently held in two major cities in Vietnam – Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The event provided Hoc Mai Foundation and University of Sydney staff to get updates on the professional lives of the alumni.
Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, Hugh Borrowman graciously welcomed Vietnamese alumni of the University of Sydney and Hoc Mai to the Ambassador’s residence in Hanoi on 31 October 2014. Mr Borrowman mentioned the importance of sustaining the relationship between Vietnamese and Australia towards improving the health and its long-term benefits to Viet Nam and its people.
On 3 November 2014, Australian Consul General (in Ho Chi Minh City) John McAnulty also hosted the Hoc Mai alumni event in the Consul General’s residence in HCMC. Despite the pour on the Monday, former Hoc Mai fellows and scholars turned up to meet and greet Hoc Mai Foundation and University of Sydney team.
Hoc Mai Chair Prof Bruce Robinson expressed his gratitude towards the continuous support of the Australian government through its mission in Vietnam in upholding the Hoc Mai’s philosophy of forever learning in medicine and healthcare in Vietnam.
Former Vietnamese exchange students (Medicine and Nursing) and Australia Awards Fellows were invited to join the events. A delegation from the University of Sydney and Hoc Mai Foundation who travelled to Vietnam for the annual Hoc Mai trip, including The Hon Dame Professor Marie Bashir, were also present in the events.
Australian Ambassador Hugh Borrowman with Hoc Mai Chair Professor Bruce Robinson welcomes the guests in the Hanoi event.
Consul General John McAnulty welcomed Hoc Mai alumni and guests at the HCMC event.
Hoc Mai alumni in Hanoi event with Dr Manuela Ferreira (2nd from right).
Hoc Mai Vietnamese alumni in the Hanoi function.
Hoc Mai Alumni in the Ho Chi Minh function with Prof Bruce Robinson (front).
Hoc Mai Alumni joined by Associate Professor Jennifer Fraser of Sydney Nursing School (left), Ms Audrey Blunden (centre) and Sarah Winter (2nd from right).