Nepal – Cardiology & Human Biology

About Nepal

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. One consequence of its extreme poverty is that the country suffers a marked disparity in health care. Whereas the doctor/patient ratio in Nepal’s urban areas, 1 to 1,500, is comparable to that available in developed countries, that ratio in most rural areas, where 85% of Nepalese live, is just 1 to 30,000. This glaring disparity, among other social ills, has contributed to the civil unrest of the last decade. More equitable healthcare would not only alleviate much suffering in the rural parts of the country, but also promote social cohesion and a sense of shared identity, and in turn reduce the likelihood that conflict might reoccur in Nepal.

About the Patan Academy of Health Sciences

Working with the Patan Academy of Health Sciences (PAHS), Academics Without Borders (AWB) hopes to improve health care in Nepal. PAHS has a Medical School and a School of Public Health and is affiliated with the neighboring Patan Hospital, in which its students have their clinical training. It aims to bridge the disparity between urban and rural health care by educating doctors willing to provide medical care to disadvantaged Nepalese living in rural areas. Specifically, it recruits students from those rural areas — often from poor families and from lower castes – with the understanding that at the end of their six-year program of studies, they will commit to spending five years working in rural areas. From the beginning of their studies, they participate in rotations in rural villages, where they incrementally apply community-based primary health care

Gap and Upgrade Teaching:* 2011 – 2013

Courses on Cardiology and Human Biology

In 2011, Carol Ann Courneya, along with two other AWB volunteers, Jane Gair and Jason Waechter, delivered two courses in basic medical science to 60 students who had begun the program in 2010, the first group attending PAHS. Carol-Ann and Jason taught a course on cardiology and Jane, a course on human biology. In giving the courses they worked closely with their PAHS faculty counterparts, Ira Shrestha, Babu Rajha Maharjan, and Mili Joshi, and their teams. The apprenticeship model that was used incorporated teaching and curriculum development for the faculty. After finishing their assignment at PAHS in 2011, the volunteers continued their relation with PAHS, providing on-site support for the PAHS faculty in 2012 and supporting them on-line in 2013.

Teaching in Nepal is so rewarding—I love interacting with the students and learning so much about international educational differences. In this past visit, I learned far more from the faculty and students at PAHS than I think they learned from me.

–Jane Gair

*Gap teaching is filling in the gaps in the course offerings of a university which does not have the faculty to teach the course; upgrade teaching is teaching a course with a local faculty member to upgrade their ability to teach the course.

The Cardiovascular Courses: 2014

Bibiana Cujec, Kristen Lyons and Olga Toleva, cardiologists from the University of Alberta, spent a month at PAHS in January 2014. The project’s purpose was to upgrade the ability of some of the PAHS faculty members to teach cardiology. The AWB volunteers and these faculty members co-taught first-year medical students in the Cardiovascular block. Teaching activities included lectures, small-group problem-based learning, learning games, art contests, and workshops. The volunteers also taught the faculty members how to perform echocardiography. This bedside ultrasound examination is very useful in the management of patients who are critically ill or have heart disease.

Thank you very much for teaching us how to use the Vscan [portable echograph]. This is really helping us. Now we are using it every day on each and every patient in ICU.

–Dr. Gyan Kayastha, Chief of Medicine, Patan Hospital

I have visited and worked at the Patan Academy of Health Sciences for up to 4 weeks during four visits in the past five years. The resilience of the people and the resourcefulness and skills of the healthcare workers continue to amaze me. Whenever I return to Canada, I am grateful for our good fortune in having clean water and air as well as advanced medical technologies. Through my visits to Nepal, I also have come to appreciate the power of communities and families that help each other.

–Dr. Bibiana Cujec


Both faculty members and medical students deepened their understanding of cardiovascular physiology and disease. In addition, internal medicine residents learned how useful handheld ultrasound can be in clinical decision-making. And the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) staff and residents developed skills in echocardiographic image acquisition and interpretation. Moreover, they now have new access to on-line resources, so they can continue to employ echocardiography in the daily care of ICU and medical ward patients.

Anticipated Impacts

  • New capability on the part of the PAHS’ Medical School faculty members to teach cardiology and human biology to the Medical School’s students
  • Improved care for rural Nepali citizens suffering from cardiovascular disease
  • Decreased mortality from cardiovascular disease in rural areas of Nepal
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Liberia – Training the Trainers

About the University of Liberia

The University of Liberia is a publicly funded university located in Monrovia, Liberia. It opened in 1863 as Liberia Arts College and became a university in 1951. The school is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in West Africa. Unfortunately, civil wars have disrupted and damaged the University over the past three decades. Since the end of Liberia’s most recent civil war in 2003, the country has entered a period of redevelopment, assisted by many governments, multilateral organizations, and NGOs.

The latest civil war inflicted huge damage on the University. Not only was its infrastructure destroyed, but many of its staff were either killed or forced to leave the country. Moreover, the entire Liberian educational system, from pre-school through secondary school, was similarly devastated. Schools were destroyed and teachers killed or driven into exile. The absence of a functioning educational system affected multiple generations of young Liberians. The University of Liberia is playing a key role in the regeneration of the school system and the country.

In 2009, Dr. Emmet Dennis, the President of the University of Liberia, asked AWB to assist the University in improving the remedial courses in mathematics and English that it offered to incoming students. This project involved upgrading the teaching skills of the faculty members who teach these subjects. The goals were to reestablish the University’s remedial program while also supporting student-led initiatives for a tutoring centre.

Training the Trainers I

In the summer of 2011, AWB volunteers Conzolo and Kara Migliozzi conducted a two-month program for remedial education instructors. Their focus was on pedagogy, classroom management, and assessment. The faculty members acquired new skills that have equipped them to better teach the incoming students, many of whom are ill prepared for university-level work.

Considering how devastated Liberia’s infrastructure was as a result of the war, it is not surprising that students entering college do not have the fundamental skills necessary to be successful… Developing basic mathematics and English skills is vital to creating a large pool of domestic talent with the academic capacity to become excellent primary and secondary teachers — and to qualify to enter the graduate programs that are being strengthened by Liberian institutions and international organizations.

– Conzolo Migliozzi, Volunteer

Training the Trainers II

The faculty members who participated in the summer 2011 project to upgrade their teaching skills found the program so rewarding that they asked that it be continued the following summer. For the second session, the faculty members asked for workshops focusing on mathematics and English that would incorporate teaching methods appropriate to these two disciplines. To fulfill the request, AWB sent three volunteers to the University in the summer of 2012 – Ree Migliozzi, Maryan Koehler and Emmett C. Dennis. Ree and Emmet are specialists in the teaching of mathematics and Maryan in the teaching of English to university students.

Training the Trainers III

In 2014, Brian Goodman conducted a series of eight workshops offering professional and educational development for the English Department faculty. These faculty members, who are responsible for teaching more than 17,000 undergraduates each year, have widely varying levels of formal education in college-level English subjects. The workshops focused on reinforcing instructors’ skills in those subjects.

A major goal was to emphasize critical thinking skills through increased attention to the mechanics of both reading and writing at a college level. For example, the work on reading skills, which employed both nonfiction and literary texts, moved from comprehension to evaluation and interpretation. Subsequent sessions addressed different forms of written argumentation, including persuasive essays, literary explication, and research papers. Finally, one session presented creative writing as a subject to be fruitfully incorporated into the English curriculum.

Between 30 and 40 instructors from the University participated in each of the eight workshop sessions. This group represented more than half of the English instructors. These instructors reported increased confidence in each skill area covered by the workshops; they all created plans to incorporate their new competencies into their classroom teaching. Thanks to this project, and to other ongoing AWB projects at the University of Liberia, thousands of students will receive improved instruction in the crucial areas of reading, writing, and critical thinking.

I want to extend special thanks to Mr. Brian Goodman for a job well done. He did extremely well by expanding our knowledge in the areas of Expository Writing, Creative Writing, Reading Strategies, etc. Addressing these topics is very timely and crucial for our students. I believe that AWB’s continual support over the past few years has been essential and has tremendously helped our department in meeting some of its enormous challenges.

– Austin Lablah, University of Liberia, Instructor, English Department


Faculty members are much better able to teach English literature, writing, and mathematics. As a direct consequence, their students are better able to do university-level work.

Anticipated Impact

There will be increasing numbers of better-educated students, who in turn will go on to become doctors, engineers, agronomists, and nurses able to provide the skills and expertise that Liberia needs for its development.


Date: 2011-2014

  • Emmett C. Dennis, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Department of Mathematics, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, Connecticut (Training the Trainers II)
  • Brian Goodman, doctoral candidate, Harvard University (Training the Trainers III)
  • Maryan Koehler, International Faculty Member, Regis University, Denver, Colorado (Training the Trainers II)
  • Conzolo Migliozzi, Educator, 1199SEIU Training and Upgrading Fund, University of Massachusetts, Boston (Training the Trainers I)
  • Kara Migliozzi, Health Educator, Higgins Middle School Peabody, Massachusetts (Training the Trainers I)
  • Ree Migliozzi, Adjunct Professor of Mathematics, Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, Massachusetts (Training the Trainers II)
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Indonesia – Creating Educational Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

In many countries, especially in the developing world, the disabled are neglected and often hidden away, because of the shame connected to disability. It is difficult for them to play a useful role in their societies. Moreover, many of them end up at the bottom of the social pyramid, poor and neglected.

AWB sent Marion Steff, who had just received her Ph.D. from McGill in Educational Psychology, to Indonesia for a year to work at the Centre for Disability Studies and Services at the State Islamic University (UIN) Sunan Kalijaga, in Yogyakarta, the only centre for disabled students at an Indonesian university.

The university is part of a system of Muslim universities in Indonesia. It attracts mostly poorer students from rural areas, where people tend to be more religious. These universities are very influential in Indonesia and the work in the Centre has the potential to make an impact, not only at the university at which Marion worked, but also throughout Indonesia.

Marion, with the very important support of the rector, the students, and the staff of the university, worked to make the Centre more useful for the visually impaired students enrolled at the university. She also raised awareness among the students and faculty, who will inform the public outside the institution of the problems facing the disabled, and more importantly, what they can contribute to the society.

Jarot Wayudi, the Director of Human Resource Management, at UIN Sunan Kalijaga said,
“The expert chosen by AWB was excellent. Marion…worked very hard for the centre…inspiring the students to develop the centre and to create linkages with other institutions. She is also good in negotiating and communicating with UIN leaders…. It had a positive impact on the development of the center and the university. UIN stakeholders became more aware of “difable” issues and more open to prospective difabled students.”

The project was so successful that the Centre’s staff members want to continue the work as AWB volunteers to help other universities in Indonesia set up similar centres.

Date: 2011-2016


  • Marion Steff, Policy Advisor for Social Inclusion, Sightsavers, Melksham, Great Britain
  • Lisa Fisher, consultant on development
  • Earllene Roberts, Disability Resource Centre Coordinator and Diversity Advisor, Student Services and Development, University of British Columbia – Okanagan Campus, Kelowna, British Columbia

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2010-2011 – Kigali, Rwanda

Reorganizing and enabling the registrar’s office to efficiently provide administrative services (recruitment, admissions, & management of student records).

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2011 – Windhoek‎, Namibia

Helping establish academic support programs for students; giving seminars for faculty on collaborative teaching and learning and the peer review process.

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2011 – Cape Coast, Ghana

Providing instruction to faculty to upgrade their ability to offer the first PhD program in Computer Science in Ghana.

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2011 – Malete, Nigeria

Assisting faculty to establish, staff, and organize a centre for innovation and international studies.

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2011 – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Assisting the Faculty of Medicine in setting up a residency program in family medicine.

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2011 – Awasa, Ethiopia

Designing a capstone course in nutrition for the undergraduate nutrition curriculum.

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2011 – Makeni, Sierra Leone

Exploratory visit to develop possibility of working to improve primary education in the University’s catchment area.

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