Zambia Neurology Elective

Igor Koralnik, MD, chairperson of the Department of Neurological Sciences, and Amar Bhatt, MD, the Neurology Residency program director, are excited to announce a new elective at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia for our PGY3 neurology residents. Each year, two residents will receive a stipend to travel to Zambia for a one-month elective. During this elective, they will have the opportunity to see inpatient neurology consults, work in outpatient clinics, instruct medical students and aid in existing research under the direct supervision of Omar Siddiqi, MD. Dr. Siddiqi is an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and is Dr. Koralnik’s mentee. 


Igor Koralnik, MD, and Omar Siddiqi, MD, outside main entrance of UTH

The University Teaching Hospital (UTH) is affiliated with the University of Zambia School of Medicine, the nation’s first Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB) granting medical school. This 1600-bed facility located in the nation’s capital provides a diverse set of specialties to the citizens of Zambia, including Community Medicine, Internal Medicine (of which Neurology is a sub-specialty), Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pathology, and Pediatrics. Zambia currently suffers from a significant deficit of neurologists, with a total of three neurologists in the country for a population of 14.3 million people. Dr Siddiqi is one of the two neurologists who work at UTH, taking care of patients who travel from all parts of the country to the capital city for care.


Dr. Atdazhanov examining a patient at UTH


Through this elective, residents will be able to experience practicing medicine in another country with a significantly different population in a resource-limited hospital. These patients suffer from a variety of disease processes rarely seen in the United States, including AIDS-defining illnesses as Tuberculosis Meningitis, Cerebral Toxoplasmosis, Cryptococcal Meningitis, and Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy, as well as endemic diseases such as African Trypanosomiasis, and malaria. In addition to these disease processes, the residents will have the opportunity to navigate a health system vastly different than that of the United States’. Through the month, the residents will learn to treat patients in an environment with more limited access to imaging and medications. They also experienced the strong bonds that Zambian patients and their families share, much like those of their patients in America.

In addition to exposure to patients and the Zambian healthcare system, residents will have the opportunity to interact with other independent research organizations, such as Zambia AIDS Related Tuberculosis Project (ZAMBART) and the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ). Featured lectures are provided throughout the month at these locations.

Omar Siddiqi, MD, with medical students on teaching rounds

Besides all of the academic pursuits, visiting residents have the opportunity to experience Zambian history, culture, wildlife, and cuisine. Due to the favorable exchange rate, Zambia has a number of restaurants which offer everything from more traditional Zambian dishes, to Italian, Indian, and even Mexican cuisine. The breadth of offerings in Lusaka are not only due to its status as the capital city of the country. A large expatriate community from North America lives in Zambia, a politically-stable country where English is one of the main languages, with a number people working in medical or research fields. Members of this community regularly congregate to have dinner, drinks, play ultimate Frisbee, attend yoga classes, and other recreational activities. Outside of Zambia, interested residents can travel to such locations as the South Luangwa National Park, Kafue National Park, Lower Zambezi National Park, or the popular Victoria Falls in Livingston.

Dhanashri Miskin, MD, with UTH residents

All photographs are courtesy of Dr. Siddiqi and Dr. Koralnik.