Warwick Medical School's presence has a huge impact on the Coventry and Warwickshire area. WMS-trained doctors work in local hospitals, the University collaborates with the community to tackle health problems and supports the work of charities such as the Grace Research Fund. However, a core belief of the University is that the work carried here out should have a global dimension. Lessons learned at Warwick must make a difference around the world.
Global health crises
There are a number of significant health crises facing the world today. WMS prioritises some of the most pressing for research. One of these priority areas is obesity which is a major issue for the UK but also a serious problem around the world. According to the World Health Organisation, in 2005 approximately 1.6 billion adults were overweight and at least 400 million were obese. By 2015, it is predicted that 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese. This will inevitably lead to serious health consequences for the people affected. They will be at a higher risk of illnesses such as cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease is already the number one cause of death worldwide, with 70% of deaths occurring in developing countries. Our research focuses on prevention, detection and treatment, examining hypertension and the relations between nutrition, metabolic abnormalities and cardiovascular risk in developed and developing countries - particularly in west and southern Africa. Our findings translate into practical policies. Support from alumni and friends is already helping the University to make progress in this field. The head of our cardiovascular team holds WMS' first endowed chair: extra investment will enable us to create more research teams to work in this vital area.
Postgraduate educational opportunities
Ensuring that our research has a positive impact around the world, particularly in developing countries, often means taking a different approach. One of the main problems for young doctors in some parts of Africa is developing their skills after graduation and helping them to stay up to date with the latest research. Heavy workloads and long distances to travel mean that it is difficult for them to access postgraduate educational opportunities. In an effort to address this problem, staff from WMS have recently spent time in Mozambique exploring the possibility of working with local medical schools to provide postgraduate medical education there. Creating a postgraduate medical education programme which is tailored to both the situation in which they work and to medical conditions they are most likely to face, should help ensure that young doctors have access to the best possible educational opportunities and that Mozambique does not lose its medical talent to richer countries.
As a result of discussions held with leading doctors in Beira, the second largest city in Mozambique, the outline of a proposed Masters in Clinical Sciences has been drawn up to include a pick and mix portfolio which might include such modules as chronic disease management, hypertension, diabetes and child health. Using existing excellent resource materials, there would also be a provision for essential continuing professional development through online learning for HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. If the plan comes to fruition, Warwick would also create a portfolio of world class research materials which are contextualised to the local situation where access to medicines, equipment and support can be severely limited.
How you can help
Much of the work carried out at WMS is funded by foundations, companies and private individuals - people wanting to make a difference to the world. Warwick Medical School is seeking to raise £20 million by 2015 to help it achieve its goals and to make a positive contribution to global health. Your support, and the support of alumni and friends like you, could help us to save lives.