Shared challenges link Meharry with Zambia

Nashville's Meharry Medical College, one of 11 historically black institutions supported by The United Methodist Church's Black College Fund, is working out the details of its first international partnership, and the historically black institution plans to focus on health challenges the U.S. shares with the southern African nation of Zambia.

The partnership with the University of Zambia will involve swapping students and faculty. They will focus their research in seven shared areas, including late-onset diabetes, hypertension and HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Maria Lima, dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, says Zambia was chosen strategically since Meharry's work is primarily on health disparities

"Some of the cancers, the increase in heart disease and hypertension, almost look like the U.S.," she says. "So that's something that is interesting to study. Are there any linkages? Is it a health disparity?"

Meharry has been making a concerted effort to partner with outside institutions in recent years, with a new fast-track degree program for primary care physicians with Middle Tennessee State Universityand a new residency program with for-profit hospital chain HCA.

The partnership in Zambia starts this fall and also involvesĀ Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.

"The opportunity to work in collaboration with the University of Zambia and Morehouse expands the academic, clinical and research horizons of our students and faculty to a foreign continent, culture and people," Meharry president James Hildreth said in a statement.

"In today's global society, Meharry's mission is no longer contained to borders or city limits. We must serve the underserved wherever they live in the world."

Blake Farmer, Nashville Public Radio

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Black College Fund provides financial support to maintain solid, challenging academic programs; strong faculties; and well-equipped facilities at 11 United Methodist-related historically black colleges and universities. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Black College Fund apportionment at 100 percent.