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Year : 2002  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 346-352

The Tropical Triangle: A Health Education Alliance for the Southwest Pacific

1 James Cook University School of Medicine, Townsville, Australia
2 Fiji School of Medicine, Baravilala, Suva, Fiji, Fiji
3 University of Papua New Guinea School of Medicine, Sapuri, Port Moresby, Guinea

Correspondence Address:
Kimberly M Oman
C/O James Cook University, School of Medicine, Townsville, Queensland 4811
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Introduction: Few collaborations between universities in developed countries and medical schools in developing countries have been described in detail in the medical literature. We describe a collaboration between three medical schools, one in a developed country and two in developing countries based on shared challenges and missions. The Alliance: James Cook University School of Medicine (JCU), Fiji School of Medicine (FSM) and University of Papua New Guinea School of Medicine (UPNG) are all located within the tropical regions of the Southwest Paci.c. All schools serve vast geographical areas where much of the population lives in rural and remote communities with limited access to medical care. JCU's .rst class started in 2000 as the only complete medical school in Tropical Australia and was founded with a mission to meet the health care needs of rural, remote and underserved populations in the region. FSM educates medical students from most English-speaking developing Paci.c Island Nations. UPNG serves a predominantly rural developing nation where infectious diseases and other diseases of rural developing nations predominate. Based on their common challenges and goals, the three schools established an informal collaborative relationship called ''the Tropical Triangle'' in the late 1990s. Objectives, Activities and Challenges: These very different institutions are committed to an effective partnership based on mutual understanding and knowledge of each other's day-to-day challenges. Faculty development seminars on medical education have already been carried out in Fiji by JCU staff. JCU has also offered several PhD scholarships to FSM staff, three of which are in the process of being taken up. JCU has offered to make available its online teaching resources to FSM and UPNG. Student exchanges are planned, and FSM and UPNG have exchanged examiners on several occasions for the MBBS and postgraduate programs. The possibilities for collaborative research on regional problems are being explored. Conclusion: The Tropical Triangle Alliance is a special and perhaps unique alliance based on equality and shared challenges. The bene.ts from this alliance ow both ways. The alliance may serve as a model for other collaborations between health education institutions in developed and developing countries.

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