MSUToday
Published: March 18, 2013

Students meet with Yucatán governor on medical trip

Contact(s): Andy McGlashen Media Communications office: (517) 355-2281, Reza Nassiri Institute of International Health office: (517) 353-8992 Reza.Nassiri@hc.msu.edu

The new governor of the State of Yucatán in Merida, Mexico warmly welcomed undergraduate students from Michigan State University traveling with a medical study abroad course over spring break.

Donning a Spartan cap and accepting gifts from the group, Governor Rolando Zapata Bello praised and thanked the College of Osteopathic Medicine for choosing Merida as the location for MSU's first osteopathic clinic outside U.S. borders and for the Yucatán’s first kidney dialysis unit. Zapata Bello is an advocate of osteopathic medicine and the osteopathic philosophy, which involves a focus on whole-body wellness and disease prevention.

The group of 26 students was led by Reza Nassiri, director of MSU’s Institute of International Health and associate dean of global health. The annual study abroad course, Community Medicine in the Yucatán, gives pre-medical students the opportunity to learn about the Mexican health care system, explore Mayan culture and observe clinical procedures they would not have the opportunity to see in the U.S.

“This past week has been an amazing experience,” said MSU sophomore Vineetha Rangarajan. “We had the opportunity to participate in so many things that would not have been possible in the US. This trip has truly been life changing.”

The group brought with them donations of medical and hygiene supplies and clothing which they distributed at community clinics. Students were also involved in screening for diabetes, high cholesterol and sexually transmitted diseases at Progreso Community Clinic, thirty minutes outside Merida.

“Our partnership with the Yucatán is becoming stronger each year,” said Nassiri. “The Institute of International Health is committed to providing global health knowledge and research experience to MSU students.”

The institute’s next project in the region is to establish new environmental health research programming with the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatán. MSU faculty members already have participated in meetings about that program.

The strategic partnership that has emerged between MSU and the Yucatán Department of Health during the past two years enables College of Osteopathic Medicine-affiliated physicians to apply for clinical practice in the state of Yucatán. The college’s osteopathic clinic at Hospital O’Horan in Merida has facilitated numerous international clerkships for final year medical students.

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Governor Rolando Zapata Bello of the State of Yucatán, Mexico, accepts a ball cap from pre-medical students on a medical study abroad course organized by the MSU Institute of International Health. Courtesy photo.

Governor Rolando Zapata Bello of the State of Yucatán, Mexico, accepts a ball cap from pre-medical students on a medical study abroad course organized by the MSU Institute of International Health. Courtesy photo.

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