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ECU supports National Guard project with Moldova

By Army Capt. Rick Scoggins
North Carolina National Guard Public Affairs

Dr. Chris Bremer
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Oct. 19, 2011)   —   North Carolinians are known for their friendly personalities, generous nature and their willingness to help their fellow man if they are needed.

In keeping with that tradition, a retired East Carolina University physician strengthened the state's bonds with the country of Moldova in Eastern Europe with an Oct. 4 medical lecture.

The lecture was part of the State Partnership Program, which began in 1995, in collaboration with the North Carolina National Guard, focused on developing a self-sustained civilian-to-civilian program fostering good government to develop stable democracies after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Dr. Chris Bremer is one of many doctors at ECU who conduct medical lectures as part of ECU's global classroom program, developed seven years ago.

"We began five years ago with biweekly lectures by ECU faculty, which was sent to the Medical University in Moldova," said Bremer, who spoke Oct. 4 about evaluating fever in children. The lectures are conducted through a Web-based video interface offering two-way communications with medical facilities in a variety of countries. Bremer was asked to develop a program for the Brody School of Medicine at ECU after conducting similar lectures with medical schools in China.

The key coordinator of the program is Dr. Rosina Chia, assistant vice chancellor of global academic initiatives at ECU. Chia, who is the leader and developer of the global classroom program, is now involved making the program a fixture at the Brody medical school and collaborating with other countries to offer medical educational support.

"Moldova Medical University was the first to be on the receiving side, and it started in 2006 and has continued until now," said Chia. "This year we are hoping to add Jimma University from Ethiopia and Kufa University from Iraq in the near future."

Bremer and other ECU physicians conduct medical lectures weekly from October through May with third- and fourth-year medical students and some hospital faculty members from the various countries they serve. Bremer's lecture was also broadcast to 100 students in Ethiopia in conjunction with the Moldova session that day.

"I have been to Moldova four times and have met with students and faculty," said Bremer. "I believe there is sufficient interest and support on their end to conclude that they recognize a real benefit of this program."

In conjunction with these significant contributions on the academic side, the North Carolina National Guard also works with Moldova as part of the SPP. The National Guard was chosen for this program because of their unique ability to provide civilian 'grass-roots' expertise as well as military experience to create and maintain strong bonds with other cultures. Besides its agreement with Moldova, the Guard also partners with Botswana in Africa as part of North Carolina's SPP.

The Guard has worked closely with state government to improve the program since its inception in the 1990s.

A key player in this effort, N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, has helped the Guard develop the program into a diverse program offering North Carolina-based experience across a wide variety of disciplines such as business, government, agriculture, the arts, medicine and education as well as civilian-to-civilian events.

Marshall, who co-chairs the North Carolina-Moldova Bilateral Affairs Committee, has worked for more than a decade to help provide North Carolina volunteers for hundreds of projects that benefit the SPP. North Carolina has signed three cooperative agreements with Moldova, the latest in January 2010 on the floor of the North Carolina Senate.

According to Chia, Marshall learned about the global classroom program in a recent visit to Moldova with members from ECU (including Chia) and since then has supported the academic collaboration with North Carolina universities. Chia also said that the N.C. National Guard helped introduce members from ECU to contacts at Moldovan universities during the visit with Marshall.

Bremer's experiences with Moldova medical professionals continue to be effective.

"I have found interest not only in our high-tech medicine but also in preventive measures and efficient delivery of medical care," said Bremer. "They have good medical knowledge, but their resources are quite limited."

With essential programs like the one offered through ECU, the SPP will continue to help develop Moldovan Society and make significant changes in health care for the country.

The National Guard's State Partnership Program operates in 65 nations, and 22 states have partnerships with 28 countries in the Western Hemisphere.


Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2482