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Monday, October 15 2018 @ 11:02 PM UTC

Delegation signs agreements to expand international aid in Central America

Panama News University of Texas HOUSTON – A group of ambassadors from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Memorial Hermann Healthcare System traveled to Guatemala in January to offer medical and scientific collaboration as part of an outreach program to increase international aid. During the visit to Central America, the health science center signed a cooperation agreement with the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. The Memorial Hermann Healthcare System signed a cooperation agreement with the Central American Parliament, or PARLACEN. PARLACEN is a political institution devoted to the integration of Central American countries. Six countries are members: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic. “The agreements are a chance to share our expertise in the prevention and treatment of the most common diseases that afflict the region, but it doesn’t stop there. There is a need for help in specialty areas. We hope to offer telemedicine, which is clinical medical care or advice given over the telephone or the Internet, and an exchange program with our medical school students and residents,” said Maximilian Buja, M.D., executive vice president of academic affairs and distinguished chair in pathology and laboratory medicine at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Buja represented Larry Kaiser, M.D., president of the UT Health Science Center, on the Guatemala trip. (more)

Looking back on the trip, Pedro Mancias, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the UT Medical School, said, “The desire for cooperation is great; the need is greater. We have the opportunity to help the people struggling in this region and our academic colleagues who are faced with shortages in materials and manpower.” Mancias represented Giuseppe Colasurdo, M.D., dean of the medical school. The delegation of 14 was received by Guatemalan Vice President Dr. Rafael Espada, a former cardiothoracic surgeon at Baylor College of Medicine and The Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center.

The trip to the Central American Parliament, PARLACEN, was productive. “We met with representatives from all of the Central American countries and talked about opportunities to collaborate,” said Juanita Romans, chief executive officer of the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center Campus, the private, primary teaching hospital for the medical school. “This is yet another example of our shared vision with our academic partners at UT, and I'm proud of what we are trying to accomplish together not just locally, but globally,” Romans said.

“We accomplished what we set out to do,” said Adan Rios, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine at the medical school. Rios, who is a native of Panama, spearheaded the proposed partnership. “The most important aspect was the fulfillment of the international projection and commitment of the health science center and Memorial Hermann to collaborate globally with other academic institutions and healthcare facilities. Over the next year, we will work on defining what type of aid we can provide. All six schools that comprise the health science center will be helping in different capacities.”

On behalf of the People of Guatemala and the nations represented at PARLACEN, Espada expressed with great emotion the hope the visit brought to the region, Rios said.

“Our delegation was received so graciously by our Central American neighbors,” said Sharon K. Ostwald, PhD, RN, professor and Isla Carroll Turner Chair of Gerontological Nursing and coordinator of international programs in The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing. Ostwald represented Patricia L. Starck, D.S.N, RN, dean of the school of nursing. “The trip inspired continuing conversations across our borders as we consider ways that we can assist in the education of nurses and physicians throughout Central America and work with our colleagues there to improve the health care services that are available to their citizens.”

“Our trip to Guatemala to see the 333-year-old Universidad de San Carlos as well as speak to the Central American Parliament was inspiring and momentous,” said Carmel B. Dyer, M.D., director of the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine and professor and executive vice-chair of internal medicine at the medical school. Dyer represented David McPherson, M.D., chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the medical school. “We can envision multiple opportunities for intellectual exchange – of trainees, data and ideas. We look forward to developing a strategic plan for working with our Central American neighbors.”

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