DEVELOPMENT REPORT - WHO Medical Training Center

By Jill Moss

This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

The World Health Organization has opened a new medical training center to help developing countries identify and control diseases. The center opened last month in Lyons, France. It will help poor countries set up laboratories to quickly identify and control infectious diseases.

The W-H-O already operates an international system that watches for major health threats that could develop into world problems. The W-H-O executive director for communicable diseases is David Heymann. Doctor Heymann says the new medical center in France will help strengthen public health laboratories and services in developing countries.

Doctor Heymann says there is a great need for this. In Africa, for example, he says only one laboratory can identify the Ebola or Marburg viruses that cause serious diseases. It is the W-H-O laboratory in South Africa.

Bacteria or other substances that are collected in any country in Africa are sent to the laboratory in South Africa. Or they are sent to laboratories in Europe, North America or Asia. Doctor Heymann says Ebola is an example of a very complex disease that is hard to identify. But many countries, he says, do not even have the ability to identify more commonly known diseases, such as cholera or yellow fever.

The World Health Organization estimates that diseases spread to other people kill more than thirteen-million people around the world each year. Most of the victims are poor people in developing countries.

To help solve this problem, the W-H-O hopes to train people from forty-five countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The first training class begins in April in Lyons. Laboratory experts from eight countries in West Africa and Central Africa will take part. The program will offer the medical experts and scientists new skills to identify diseases. They also will learn how to use communications equipment, the Internet and electronic mail. This technology will help them respond quickly to possible medical problems.

The W-H-O says the purpose of the project is to build a system that will help countries identify diseases. With these skills, the W-H-O says countries will be able to react more quickly to fight the spread of disease.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Jill Moss.

Voice of America Special English