The postgraduate training in tropical medicine is a three and a half months course that prepares nurses and midwives for a challenging professional experience in a low-resource setting. For those wishing to pursue a career in international health this course is a first step on a life-long learning path.
Initial professional assignments of (expatriate) nurses and midwives working in international health take mainly place at first line health services. This can be both in stable and in emergency situations. Their tasks include the management of these services as well as the training and supervision of local health care workers. The course therefore focuses on two key domains: tropical medicine and organization of health services.
To fully grasp the professional reality of health care workers in tropical and low-resource settings, participants get a thorough introduction into the major tropical and infectious diseases and clinical decision making. The biomedical (germs, parasites, worms, etc.) and laboratory aspects are complementary triggers that help making clinical medicine and its diagnostic challenges more comprehensible. A strong focus is on child health and nutrition as children make up the bulk of patients in the South.
To deal with management issues, participants need to master the basic concepts of public health as well as aspects of resource management. The latter includes management of human resources, drugs, diagnostics and vaccines. Collection, interpretation and reporting of health information data are other key tasks for which participants are prepared. The course will also help in translating hygiene & infection control strategies to the context of a low-resource setting.
At the end of the course the participants will be able to:
- Discuss the biomedical and clinical aspects of the major tropical, infectious and non-communicable diseases, with a specific focus on pregnant women and children, in order to manage their treatment and prevention.
- Apply the basic principles of clinical decision making in a resource-poor setting.
- Organise primary health care services taking into account local policies and regulations and resource availability as well as the perspective of communities and patients.
- Organise health care in an emergency situation including the management of nutrition rehabilitation centers and immunization campaigns.
The course consists of three learning tracks.
Medical learning track
- Biomedical and clinical aspects of tropical and infectious diseases
- Clinical decision making in resource-poor settings
- Childhood illnesses and malnutrition
Management learning track
- Health service organization focusing on the first line within a district perspective, in stable and emergency situations
- Management of resources at first line (human, drugs, diagnostics, vaccines,…)
- Supervision and training
- Laboratory with attention for rapid tests, sample collection, quality control
- Clinical examination
- Infection control and wound care in low resource settings
- Data collection, analysis, interpretation and reporting
Teaching and learning methods
The postgraduate course uses established methods for adult learning with a strong focus on learning by doing. The curriculum is based on real-life tasks and scientific evidence. Interactive classes alternate with case studies and task-based learning. Both individual assignments and group work is used.
ITM teaching staff with extensive field experience are the major contributors to the course. External lecturers complete the expertise.
Students are assessed throughout and at the end of a course through a set of exams: knowledge questions on clinical medicine and clinical case discussions, essay questions on case studies and laboratory skills assessment.
A higher secondary certificate, a bachelor degree in nursing or midwifery (minimum 180 ECTS credits) and two years of professional experience are required to be eligible for this course. Nurses and midwives from developing countries are only eligible if they are working for an international NGO or for a higher education (nursing) institution.
The course is taught simultaneously in English and French. If you wish to follow the course in French, you should apply for 'Médecine tropicale pour bachelors en soins infirmiers et sages-femmes'.
Students for whom English is not their first language must provide evidence of a 6.5 IELTS score (or 580 TOEFL score) or equivalent. Exemption from this requierement may be granted to those who successfully completed higher education in English or at a Flemish higher education institution.
Note: documents requiered at application: copies of academic or professional degrees, copies of transcripts of academic records (scores), curriculum vitaie, proof of English language proficiency, passport size photograph, motivation letter (forms are presented online during application procedure).
For organisational purposes, a maximum of 40 students is admitted for each language (English/French). Places are allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis.