In an effort to address the prevalence of injury and trauma in southern Africa, David W. Wright, MD and Scott M. Sasser, MD, assistant professors in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine, have received a five-year, $749,000 grant from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant will improve trauma care and injury control research for clinicians and academic professionals in the Republic of Mozambique, and is a partnership between Emory University and the University Eduardo Mondlane (a Mozambican university) with support from the University of South Africa.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 5 million people worldwide die from injuries each year.
It is an especially daunting problem in developing countries. In Africa, the WHO estimates that 752,000 people died in 2000 as a result of injuries, and in the Republic of Mozambique, approximately 26 percent of all patients presented to the emergency department at Central Hospital Maputo in 2003 as a result of trauma. The leading causes of injury were falls, road traffic injuries, burns, and interpersonal violence.
Dr. Sasser says to his knowledge, this the first time the Fogarty Center of the NIH has awarded a grant specifically related to trauma care and injury control research.
Dr. Wright is the principal investigator. Jana MacLeod, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Emory, is co-investigator; Lorie Click of the Rollins School of Public Health is an investigator on the project.
"Emory's Center for Injury Control and our experience treating injuries at Grady's trauma center make Emory's emergency medicine department uniquely qualified to help developing countries like Mozambique build a public health-focused trauma system," says Dr. Wright.
"Ultimately, we're working with Mozambicans to develop a research center similar to Emory's Center for Injury Control that specializes in injury and addresses the problems that injury has on Mozambique regionally as well as the African continent," Dr. Sasser says.
Over the course of five years, 10 Mozambican physicians and public health professionals - two each year - will be selected to participate in a two-year fellowship program. The first year of the program will dedicated to public health coursework in Mozambique. Fellows will then spend three to six months at Emory, where they will strengthen their research skills by taking selected public health courses, participating in clinical observation, and attending educational meetings. They will also have the opportunity to attend the University of South Africa for three months to take further coursework focused on injury and trauma care. The final three months of the fellowship will be spent doing research in Mozambique.
The fellowship training will also be supplemented with the four-member Emory team traveling to Mozambique. Every fall for five years Dr. Sasser and three of his Emory colleagues will visit Mozambique to teach for two weeks. During the spring of each year, Dr. Sasser and a colleague will teach a one-week public health course on violence and injury prevention. The first year will be supplemented with hands-on teaching and distance learning from Emory via a computer lab.
Much of the grant money will be used to pay for tuition, a monthly stipend and the salary of a major foreign collaborator, Otilia Neves, MD, who directs injury programs at the University Eduardo Mondlane. Dr. Neves will run the program in Mozambique.
"We want to do as much training as we can in Africa, as opposed to bringing the fellows to Emory for two years," Dr. Sasser explains. "We can get a lot more training done there, it builds our relationship with Mozambique and South Africa, and it signals Emory's commitment to Mozambique."