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UMass Worcester- Visiting physician gathers precious tools and knowledge

When pediatrician Emilia Jumbe Marsden boarded her return flight to Zambia after a three-week visit to UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial, tucked inside her luggage were precious medical instruments she will use to establish an asthma management program at her home hospital, University Teaching Hospital in the capital of Lusaka.

Marsden, whose visit was hosted by the Department of Pediatrics and coordinated by Patricia A. McQuilkin, MD, assistant professor of
pediatrics, and Michael E. Huppert, MPH, affiliate in family medicine & community health and pediatrics, received the equipment from the manager of a warehouse in Brockton that sends donated used medical equipment to needy countries around the world. The Meyers Primary Care Institute and UMass Memorial Health Care supported Marsden's trip.

Marsden is hoping to use what she learned to not only establish a pulmonary clinic, but to help encourage the Zambian government to recognize asthma as a critical health issue and provide inhalers to the children and adults who need them. Currently, it is unknown how many Zambians have asthma.

"Asthma is one of the top ten reasons for hospital admission in Zambia," she said. Although Zambia provides national health care to
its citizens, Marsden says there are few doctors-about 500 in a country of 12.5 million-and the care of illnesses like asthma is inconsistent and not standardized. In addition, albuterol inhalers, common in the United States, are not on the national formulary and are too expensive for the average Zambian, who earns about $2 day.

Marsden learned how the U.S. health care system manages patients. "I have learned to identify which of my patients will benefit
from a respiratory test and which patients I can manage otherwise," she said.


3/3/09