Tropical Medicine and Clinical Decision Making (TMCDM)

The short course “Tropical Medicine and Clinical Decision Making” is organised for medical doctors. The training focuses on descriptive pathology, clinical and laboratory practices and clinical decision-making (CDM) adapted to low-resource settings and tropical district hospitals.
This specialized clinical course is primarily designed for medical doctors from Northern/Western countries with no or little professional experience in (low-resource) tropical settings. It may also be suited for physicians  from the South looking for a useful update in tropical medicine with a strong focus on clinical decision-making. Finally, it could be considered as a specialized course  worthwhile for all types of clinicians planning to work in Northern settings caring for international travellers and migrants.
The course may stand on its own, but can also be combined with the Short Course “Introduction to International Health” the latter being designed for different health professionals and providing a complementary perspective (beyond clinical care) in the field of international health. This course and the short course Introduction to International Health together constitute the Postgraduate Certificate in Tropical Medicine and International Health (TM&IH).

Mode of study

This course (component) is organized :
- Face-to-face (Antwerpen)

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, participants should be able to:
  • explain the epidemiological, clinical and laboratory features of tropical diseases and micronutrient deficiencies in a tropical setting
  • explain the specificities of clinical presentation and management of tuberculosis and HIV infection (and related diseases) in tropical settings
  • analyse the performances and pitfalls of laboratory tests in a tropical district hospital and interpret their results within a given clinical context
  • search and discuss online didactic information on relevant and updated clinical or diagnostic procedures, in low-resource settings
  • make a sound differential diagnosis and plan adequate clinical management, adapted to tropical hospital settings with scarce resources                                                                                                                                                                     


  • Descriptive pathology of tropical diseases, emerging diseases and diseases with a worldwide distribution such HIV/AIDS and opportunistic infections, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections, in adults: history, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis and treatment
  • Micronutrient deficiencies and malnutrition
  • Tropical aspects of major clinical specialities: paediatrics,  dermatology,  ophthalmology, gynaecology
  • Antibiotic use and stewardship
  • Laboratory skills focusing on use and maintenance of a microscope, normal elements of blood, microscopic examination of body fluids for main parasites
  • Clinical decision-making. Introduction and exercises in the building blocks of clinical reasoning; predictive power, thresholds, Bayes theorem on a logarithmic scale, complex parallel weighted reasoning; integration of newly acquired disease knowledge in existing scripts and of new scripts in a personal diagnostic framework

Teaching and learning methods

The course uses a combination of state of the art lectures, interactive classes, individual study and exercises, coached teamwork and practical laboratory work and problem-based learning.
The lecturers have extensive experience overseas and come from all departments of the ITM.  Distinguished external lecturers complement specific areas of expertise.  Next to the teaching staff, participants get support from the course coordinator for academic and programmatic aspects of the course.  Their field experience and scientific work feeds extensively into the course.


Assessment takes place in week 8 and 10.
Week 8:
  • a multiple choice questions exam: 100 questions covering all clinical subjects (55%)
  • a laboratory practice exam (15%)
Week 10:
  • an oral exam (30%) on clinical decision-making: divided in (1) a presentation of a diagnostic panorama and (2) resolution of a clinical case  
Note: pharmacists and biomedical scientists who would register for this course will do the same assessments as the medical doctors.
Students who have obtained 50% or above in total and obtained for all three assessments a pass mark (10/20) are awarded the  credit certificate.
Students who have obtained 50%  in total and who have an insufficient mark (<10/20) for just one of the 3 assessments and for whom the missing points do not amount to more than 2.5% of the total number of points to be obtained in the course, also obtain the credit certificate.
Students who do not qualify (yet) for a credit certificate can re-sit the failed assessments. The re-sit will be an oral/practical exam covering the content of the failed assessments. It will be organised mid-March of the same academic year.

Admission requirements

  • A university degree in medicine.
Other health professionals, with a university (master) degree in nursing, biomedical or pharmaceutical sciences can be exceptionally admitted (please consult the course secretariat)
  • Proficiency in the course language: students for whom English is not their first language must provide evidence of a 6.5 IELTS score (or 580 TOEFL score).  Exemption from this requirement may be granted to those who successfully completed higher education in English or at a Flemish higher education institution.

Selection criteria

For organisational purposes, a maximum of 60 students is admitted.  Places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.


Course Leader: Emmanuel Bottieau
Coordinator (s): Veerle Huyst
Secretary: Sanae El Harrak
Tel: +32(0)32476256


The course study load is equivalent to 10 ECTS credits (European Credit Transfer and accumulation System credits). The Student Investment Time (SIT) is approximately 390 hours. (240 Lecture contact hours / 150 Self-study).