Reason for foundation

We now live in a world where the threat of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases crosses continental and national borders. In recognition of this trend the world realizes the importance of nurturing expertise in the control of infectious diseases based on sound knowledge, experience, and evidence. The introduction of a Master of Tropical Medicine course at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Nagasaki University, Japan is expected to provide a whole new opportunity for eager doctors to acquire necessary knowledge and skills to combat the world-wide burden of infectious diseases. The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Nagasaki University is the only school in Japan that runs a PhD course specializing in emerging infectious diseases and tropical medicine. Furthermore, the Institute of Tropical Medicine at this University has been playing a central role in medical research in the tropics, human development and provision of human resources for disease control programs overseas. Since 2006, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Nagasaki University has integrated in its postgraduate education the Master of Tropical Medicine course with the intent of contributing to the global efforts to reduce the burden of tropical and infectious diseases. To achieve this goal, we have developed a structured program maximizing the utility of teaching resources available at the Institute of Tropical Medicine. Specifically, we will place emphasis on acquisition of knowledge required for management and control of infectious diseases backed up by solid foundation of microbiology and advanced molecular biology tools.

What is tropical medicine?

Perhaps a few words may be necessary to clarify the use of the word gtropical medicineh.
In the 19th century medicine became global as exemplified by the inauguration of International Medical Congress in Paris in 1867. As a natural consequence of such globalization in medicine, tropical medicine emerged and developed towards the end of the 19th century. The first tropical medical school, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom, opened in April 1899 followed by the School of Tropical Medicine in London six months afterwards. Globalization at that time period strongly mirrored the spirit of imperialism in which great powers competed against each other in order to enlarge their colonies in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania. Such imperial expansion was hampered by infectious diseases prevalent in the tropics. Thus, the primary purpose of tropical medicine then was for better medical protection of their nationals in the tropics where it was infamously dubbed as the grave of white men.

While we recognize the dark side of the image that has always accompanied the term tropical medicine, it is also true that tropical medicine represented the passion and goodwill of the doctors heading for steaming tropical countries where a full range of maladies flourish.

After a short period of optimism in the middle of the 20th century that many of the infectious diseases would be overcome before the turn of the millennium, we are now facing the threat incurred by a number of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. The speed at which these infectious diseases spread from one country to another has been accelerating due to ever-expanding economic activities and international travels. Such evolvement has brought tropical medicine back into the limelight and the world now demands experts with knowledge and enthusiasm to combat this current trend. In addition, a further reflection on the issue reveals that the role that tropical medicine is expected to play will not differ much from the one that it played a century ago. In other words, tropical medicine is again playing a vital role to assure the health of the people living in the developed countries, and for this reason developing expertise in tropical medicine has significant merits in developed countries as well as in developing countries.

Aims and objectives of the course

Since April 2006, Nagasaki University has launched a Master course in Tropical Medicine at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences with the goal of (1) equipping medical doctors with practical knowledge and problem-solving skills that are directly relevant to clinical practice in the tropics, and (2) contributing to the global efforts to reduce the burden of tropical and infectious diseases.

This course will provide the students with opportunities to learn a broad range of skills and knowledge relevant to practicing medicine, formulating disease control programs and conducting medical research in tropical and developing countries. It also aims to provide students with an ability to solve practical problems they are likely to encounter in the tropics by applying the principles of epidemiology and the methods of state-of-the-art molecular medicine.


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