The Gustavus Chapter of Africa Partners Medical (APM) will be hosting an open forum at noon on Saturday, April 10, 2010 for all students who are interested in the medical and socioeconomic issues facing Africa. The head of the national organization, Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Lewis Roberts, will discuss the Continuing Medical Education Conference that the group hosts annually in Kumasi, Ghana.
APM is made up of a group of medical professionals who work to improve medical care in Africa. The Gustavus chapter of APM is affiliated with the organization based in Rochester. They work to gather medical supplies, set up scholarships to assist high school students in Africa, as well as volunteer and participating in community projects.
Along with Dr. Roberts, a group of APM coordinators and nurses will be on hand for the open forum. Though it is an open forum, Murray expects that much of the discussion will center on how APM supports medical education and how the conference addresses the needs of African medical workers.
According to APM’s website, the purpose of the conference is to “provide West African physicians and nurses the opportunity to expand their diagnostic and clinical abilities through the acquisition of new skills.” By passing cutting-edge knowledge and techniques on to the African medical community, APM addresses its main goal: using education to prevent needless death in Africa.
“I think the most unique thing about APM is that our efforts are amplified in Africa,” Senior Biology Major and departing Gustavus APM President Nick Murray said. “If we can educate one physician, he can train more.”
“I see it as kind of paralleling the Building Bridges conference” Murray said. “We’re bringing in a speaker to raise awareness of issues we don’t usually think about.”
While the national group focuses on capstone events such as the Kumasi conference, the Gustavus Chapter of the APM acts more directly, fundraising in St. Peter and surrounding communities. “We’ve been able to work with Global Health Ministries to send medical supplies to Africa,” Alex Chubick, first-year student and incoming APM publicity chair said.
The money the chapter raises also goes towards scholarships that allow underprivileged African teenagers to attend secondary school. This year the group wrote a $24,000 grant for the national organization that, if awarded, will go towards a new endoscopy repair center in Kumasi. The organization also uses the network of APM contacts to set up January Interim trips and internships. This summer, for example, Murray will travel to Nigeria to teach basic healthcare at a secondary school.
In its fourth year as an organization, Gustavus APM is the nation’s first collegiate chapter. “We’ve had some inquiries from UW-Madison and Johns Hopkins, but so far we’re the only college-recognized chapter,” Murray said. The group meets weekly throughout the academic year and welcomes new members. “A lot of people think we’re science-based, but we’re looking for anyone who wants to help out,” Chubick said.
“I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world. APM seems like the best way to do that,” Chubick said.
“There are a lot of altruistic people in this group,” Murray agreed.
For more information about the open forum or the Gustavus Chapter of Africa Partners Medical, visit the group’s website.