On Monday, October 10th, members of the Botswana-UPenn Partnership (BUP) will travel from Africa to join their colleagues on Penn’s campus to celebrate 10 years of medical and academic collaboration.
The partnership began in 2001, when Penn Medicine sent one physician to the southern African nation. That was during the height of an HIV/AIDS epidemic that former Botswana President Festus Mogae said had people dying “in chillingly high numbers.”
“Our original mission in Botswana was to train [healthcare] providers to care for patients with HIV/AIDS and its complications,” says Harvey Friedman, MD, chief, Infectious Diseases Division in the Perelman School of Medicine and current director of the Botswana-UPenn Partnership.
Since its founding, the partnership has expanded to include a staff of 65 in Botswana, including 11 full-time physicians. The collaboration offers internship experiences for Penn medical students as well as students from Nursing, Veterinary Medicine, Law, Wharton, and Arts and Sciences.
Last summer, Perelman School of Medicine student Hayley Goldbach, traveled to Botswana as part of the program. “One of the reasons that I chose to go to medical school here is that Penn has this unbelievable partnership with the Republic of Botswana,” says Hayley.
As part of her trip, she chronicled her experiences living, learning, and volunteering in Botswana in a special blog series. After returning to Philadelphia last month, Hayley says the experience reinforced her drive and commitment to become a doctor.
“Basically, I had the opportunity to re-ignite my passion for medicine while meeting and working with some truly amazing people,” she says.
The partnership’s weeklong anniversary observance will focus on a decade of work fighting HIV/AIDS and developing scholarship and medical programs to benefit the people of Botsawna as well as students at Penn.
To honor this historic partnership and engage members of the public to learn more about international health and the fight against HIV and AIDS, three sessions will be open to all:
- On Wednesday, Oct. 12, Penn students who have interned in Botswana will share their experiences in the “Experience Africa Forum - Penn Student Perspectives.” The event takes place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in Huntsman Hall, Room 345.
- On Thursday, Oct. 13, BUP Research Director Andrew Steenhoff will moderate a Botswana research update from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Biomedical Research Building, Room 253. Participants will discuss the goals of their projects, collaborators, funding, aspects of their work, obstacles and logistical lessons learned.
- The highlight of the celebration will be the Anniversary Symposium on Friday, Oct. 14, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine’s Rubenstein Auditorium. Partnership personnel will give a historical overview of the collaboration, followed by program updates on HIV/AIDS, women’s health, pediatrics, adult tuberculosis and telemedicine, and a closing panel discussion on the BUP’s plans for the next 10 years.