Vol. 12 No. 5 - December, 2009

Global initiatives

In fulfilling the public service mission of UMass Medical School, Commonwealth Medicine has developed a range of programs and services to improve health outcomes for those served by public health and human service programs. Recognizing that medically vulnerable populations exist worldwide, CWM is broadening its reach by working to develop public health services internationally.

Recognizing that medically vulnerable populations exist worldwide,

CWM is broadening its reach by working to develop public health services internationally.

One recent example came in response to the incidence and prevalence of drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) cases worldwide. The Massachusetts Supranational TB Reference Laboratory (MSRL), was among the first labs selected for the Supranational TB Reference Laboratory Network, an international collaboration of 26 such laboratories established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1997. These labs provide technical assistance and support in countries most burdened by TB. MSRL was transferred in 2006 to the University of Massachusetts through a partnership between CWM and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

An early initiative of the MSRL was development of lab infrastructure and interim support services in Peru. Today, Peru’s national laboratory is performing its own testing and surveillance with support from MSRL, and is a candidate to become a supranational TB reference laboratory.

The positive outcome in Peru set the stage for MSRL to assist other countries with high TB rates. In 2008, the lab agreed to provide long-term technical assistance and support for the National Public Health Laboratory in Haiti. We have recently entered into discussions with the Ministry of Health in Haiti to explore additional opportunities to advance public health issues in Haiti. Additionally, based on the groundwork laid in Peru and Haiti, WHO has expressed an interest in having MSRL conduct similar endeavors in other countries dealing with this international health issue.

Global Init
The Massachusetts Supranational TB Reference Laboratory, which in 2008 agreed to provide long-term technical assistance and support for the National Public Health Laboratory in Haiti (pictured), recently entered into discussions with the Ministry of Health to explore additional opportunities to advance public health issues in Haiti.

Other examples of international outreach include a research and consulting partnership that CWM along with Clark University and Public Consulting Group have entered into with the Medical University in Lodz, Poland; together, they have submitted a joint application for European Union 7 Programme Grants (also called the FP7), an instrument for funding research in Europe. And in Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala, CWM is working to improve infant health by providing screening services through its New England Newborn Screening Program.