Difficult economic situations and inadequate access to information impede the advancement of hematologic studies in many countries. For more than 10 years, ASH has distributed educational materials to institutions and hospitals in developing countries. This year, through the International Outreach Initiative (IOI), ASH reached out to 40 countries in five continents. Participants in the IOI are individuals working in diverse professions who share a common goal — to improve hematology in their home institutions. They go above and beyond what is required for the betterment of their hospitals, colleagues, and patients.
Many IOI participants involved in specialty training for medical, research, and laboratory professionals have found the materials provided by ASH to be invaluable. Often, the rising number of patients is not met with additional funding resources, capacity building, or infrastructure, making the educational materials provided through IOI a significant source of information. Dr. Nicolas Kurgansky, hematology physician at Hospital J.B. Iturraspeat in Santa Fe, describes the situation in Argentina: “In spite of economic and functional limitations that we have to face every day, the number of patients is increasing. In 2008 and 2009, we were able to access the materials provided by the International Outreach Initiative of ASH, and this excellent program allows us to study and teach from the best hematology information available worldwide.”
The IOI is ASH’s largest international outreach program. Each year, participating institutions receive online access to Blood; DVDs from the annual meeting as well as smaller meetings, which provide illustrative examples of current research; and access to the electronic version of the ASH Self-Assessment Program (ASH-SAP). In the developing world, the information derived from the educational materials is used for a variety of purposes. In Chile, they use the materials for continuing education, in China they are used to build graduate and medical student curricula, and in India physicians create regional seminars.
For anyone working in the field of hematology, staying up-to-date is vital not only to advancing the science, but also to improving patient care. ASH Member Dr. Mauricio Ocqueteau of the Chilean Society of Hematology stressed the importance of continuing education, “The majority of members do not have the possibility to buy books or travel to international meetings and the [Chilean] society has the mission to provide them a continuing education. The society considers this material to have the highest value in order to reach this goal.” The IOI brings the best of ASH to those who could not otherwise access it
While the IOI started as a small-scale program, it has since grown to be a major part of the international programming of ASH. Hundreds of participants will benefit this year from the educational materials provided. Expansion of the program is expected to continue, always with the goal of being simple, generous, and effective.
To learn more about the IOI and to apply visit the ASH booth #111.
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