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20 years of Epicentre

It’s 20 years since a number of individuals at Médecins Sans Frontières, (MSF), the international humanitarian aid organisation that provides emergency medical assistance to populations in danger in more than 70 countries, came up with the idea of Epicentre, (allegedly after a few bottles of wine!) to give scientific support to MSF field activities through research and epidemiology. Since then Epicentre has expanded to also have a role in training field workers in public health and epidemiology. To celebrate 20 years Epicentre organized two days of scientific presentations covering a wide range of topics, from the results of a trial of Artemether/Lumefantrine in uncomplicated malaria during pregnancy in Epicentre’s research centre in Mbarara, Uganda, to the outcome of mental health treatment for street children and adolescents at an MSF Day care centre in
Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The two day programme gave an idea of the enormous range of work covered by Epicentre and many topics were the subject of spirited debate, including whether there was a role for prophylactic nutrition to prevent severe malnutrition, and the role of MSF/Epicentre in gathering mortality data. The whole conference was also webcast. There’s no doubt that Epicentre has had a tremendously important role in aiding MSF in the assessment and better delivery of its humanitarian work. In June, 2007 MSF UK will host its own scientific day.

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