Abdoulaye Ag Zakaria and Fanny Bastogne proudly pose at the graduation ceremony after receiving their Master’s Degrees
With its objective of acquiring, sharing and applying knowledge, ITM continued to provide academic excellence in 2017. Our flexible modular programmes met the needs of students in a technology-driven, globalised world. This included consolidating an alliance approach. One that broadens the research and knowledge base, strengthens connections with partners and reflects the multidisciplinary, international reality of conducting tropical medicine research and applying it to health service provision in the tropics and beyond.
short course students
students in 2017
Students followed our MSc Tropical Animal Health in 2017
In 2017 ITM welcomed 615 students through its doors in Antwerp to discover, exchange and learn in scientific master degrees, short courses, doctoral (PhD) research programmes and internships. 54 of these followed our Master of Science in Public Health choosing from one of the three options of Health Systems Management and Policy, Disease Control or International Health. Another 15 chose the Master of Science in Tropical Animal Health. 174 students successfully undertook our short courses and 19 defended their PhD theses. All joining the thousands of alumni who count ITM as their academic home.
Alliances – delivering international, multidisciplinary education for the real world
In education, ITM is focusing on broad alliances that focus on going beyond pure capacity strengthening to develop programmes that are win-win for both ITM and its partners. This includes the involvement of our Southern partners in alliance initiatives with the support of the Belgian Development Cooperation as well as collaborations with the Erasmus+ and other global higher education institutions. The initial focus of the alliances is on strengthening the research skills of students, developing distance education, as well as organising staff exchange and jointly developing curricula. This gives ITM’s educational offering greater relevance, bringing students closer to the field and exposing them to a wider variety of multicultural knowledge and perspectives.
“Our alliance approach gives ITM’s offering greater relevance, bringing students closer to the field and exposing them to a wider variety of multicultural knowledge and perspectives.”
Concrete examples in 2017 of programmes with Belgian support include a workshop bringing ITM staff and Southern partners together. Here they developed five new joint eLearning initiatives involving institutional partners in Ecuador, Guinea, India and South Africa. Another prime example is our MSc Tropical Animal Health jointly run with the Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases of the University of Pretoria, South Africa. In its second edition in 2017, the Master’s focuses on One Health – the interface between humans, animals and the environment – and is a blend of e-learning and face-to-face modules. The training programme draws on the complementary research expertise between Pretoria and Antwerp providing high quality pertinent training modules across continents.
“In education, ITM is focusing on broad alliances that go beyond pure capacity strengthening to make programmes that are win-win for both ITM and its partners.”
Joining forces for PhDs – giving greater access and wider perspectives
Examples of joint European programmes are the Erasmus Mundus Trans Global Health programme and EUROLEISH.NET. Both PhD programmes offer students unique access to the best academic knowledge from a variety of institutions. The first, the Trans Global Health programme is part of the highly competitive Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate Programme. This transdisciplinary programme enables PhD students to get a double degree, from two different partner institutes in two different European countries. In 2017, seven ITM students took part in this programme with A.S.M. Shahabuddin being the first ITM based PhD student to defend his thesis in November. Similarly, ITM is hosting a further seven students from partner institutes as a part of this programme.
The second, EUROLEISH.NET, is funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 project and is a part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie – Innovative Training Network. It is a group of academic and private institutions across the world that hosts 15 PhD students. They receive training in disciplines ranging from parasitology to molecular science, genetics, epidemiology and strategic interventions. ITM is home to three of these students who are completing the multi-disciplinary programme that bridges basic and applied research.
Master’s students enrolled in the academic year 2016-2017
Flexible and modular two words that describe our courses for today’s world
Quality first for global health – international network accredits excellence
Another binding factor to our global contribution is ITM’s membership in tropEd – an international network of institutions for higher education in global health from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America. ITM hosted the tropEd general assembly in October 2017. During the session the organisation reaccredited ITM’s short courses on control of tropical diseases and on reproductive health – both part of the Master in Public Health – and the short course on drug-resistant tuberculosis. This is along with five courses also already accredited by the network.
Strength in expert short courses
ITM’s ability to offer fit-to-purpose education is an important strong point seen in our expert short courses. They offer students intensive training on specific issues in tropical medicine allowing them to return to work and apply and practice learnings immediately. Examples of such courses include: addressing drug resistant tuberculosis and its treatment; hospital based interventions to contain antibiotic resistance; applied molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases and our Qualitative and Mixed Methods in International Research (QMM) course.
Our QMM course, started in 2010, has proven so successful that it has its own spin-off. The course is based on using qualitative research to access unquantifiable facts. This is in the belief that they offer in-depth understanding of the socio-cultural setting of international health. In January 2017 this formula was replicated at the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine in Havana, Cuba, one of ITM’s partner institutions.
our short course on multidrug resistant tuberculosis
In 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended a combination therapy developed by ITM’s Dr. Armand Van Deun as standard treatment for multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Thanks to decades of pioneering work by Dr. Van Deun, clinical bacteriologist, MDR-TB has become a curable disease reducing treatment to nine months instead of the 20+ months recommended previously by the WHO.
MDR-TB treatment is complex and putting such a new regime into practice requires doctors to be trained. In response to this need ITM began its short course in drug resistant tuberculosis in 2017 and has already trained 18 medics to help some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
The course aims to help clinicians make informed choices for treatment initiation and in the monitoring and adequate and timely clinical decision making for drug resistant tuberculosis. In the course, context is provided for generic guidelines making them applicable to local settings.
Designed as an interdisciplinary and interactive training, students discover the clinical aspects of diagnosis and care. This includes molecular diagnostic tests that flag resistance – reducing time to diagnosis and allowing earlier treatment start. Students learn about the shorter WHO recommended treatment regimen of nine months, and individualised regimens with newly approved drugs and their use under defined conditions. The new short course is blended: students undertake eight weeks of online training followed by two weeks of face-to-face learning in Antwerp.