As ASH has increased its efforts to create a worldwide community of hematologists, the International Outreach Initiative (IOI) has increased its reach. In 2008, the IOI exceeded its goal of distributing educational materials from ASH to more than 200 hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and other hematology-related institutions throughout the developing world.
However, because of the lack of viable communication and marketing, Sub-Saharan Africa has not been well represented in the program’s participants. Partnering hematology associations in the region have played a pivotal role in distributing materials to this area through the IOI. In particular, ASH recently worked with the newly established Angola Society of Hematology to distribute the materials to 20 hospitals throughout Angola.
"The population of Angola suffered from three decades of conflict, leading to significant destruction of the health-care infrastructure," said Dr. Xiomara Brown, the CDC country representative for Angola, who helped facilitate communication between the two organizations. "Demolished physical structures and the depletion of a skilled workforce led to weak health programs. The Angolan Minister of Health, a trained hematologist, shares the vision that improving global health and the quality of medical care in developing countries will require heavy investment in education and system strengthening."
To reach the broadest number of hematologists possible, materials given through the IOI are intended for institutional use rather than personal use. Dr. Brown visited ASH headquarters in Washington, D.C., this past August. She filled out the one-page application on behalf of hospitals all over Angola, providing the contact information for each one, and described how hematologists would access the materials once they arrived. Sent in a pouch via embassy mail, the materials arrived in Angola’s capital, Luanda, two days later and were passed on to hospitals around the country.
The IOI was implemented in 1999 with a philosophy to be simple, generous, and effective. In effect, the program brings the ASH annual meeting and other small meetings to hematologists in developing countries. Hematologists at select institutions can choose to access any or all of the materials, including a CD-ROM containing a searchable database of the most recent ASH abstracts; a copy of Hematology, the ASH Education Program Book; a DVD-ROM featuring audio-visual presentations of the education sessions as well as the special lectures from the most recent ASH annual meeting; a copy of the ASH Self-Assessment Program; an online subscription to Blood; a DVD-ROM of sessions from the most recent Highlights of ASH®; and a DVD-ROM featuring the most recent State-of-the-Art Symposium.
ASH plans to continue working with hematology associations in developing regions to increase the number of people receiving educational materials. Association representatives wishing to distribute materials through the IOI can fill out the one-page application. Learn more about the IOI, or fill out an application by visiting the ASH booth, #637.
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