RTWThe ISTH and the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) have long worked to advance the treatment of patients with thrombosis and hemophilia through training and education fellowships for healthcare professionals around the world. On Sunday, these two organizations came together to host an inaugural joint fellowship event titled “Building Capacity and Empowering Future Leaders.”

The forum featured testimonials from both mentors and alumni of the WFH’s International Hemophilia Training Center (IHTC) and ISTH Reach-The-World fellowship programs, and was designed to raise awareness of the need for leadership development and capacity building in the fields of hemophilia, hematology and thrombosis. Participants described the ways that fellowship training has benefited participants and their communities, and addressed current needs and future goals.

“Our hope today is to raise awareness to the value of capacity building and leadership development in hemophilia, thrombosis  and hemostasis, and to share learning and stories from the programs’ work and successes and mentors,” Hansjoerg Duerr, global head of hematology at Bayer Healthcare, said during opening remarks.

Together, the WFH IHTC and the ISTH Reach-the-World programs, which are sponsored by Bayer, have provided nearly 500 fellows, mentors and future leaders with the tools needed to advance hemophilia, hematology and thrombosis care globally, Duerr said.

Marijke van den Berg, vice president medical for WFH, and Claire McLintock, ISTH education committee vice chair, National Women’s Health, Auckland City Hospital, New Zealand, provided brief histories of their respective fellowship programs.

The WFH IHTC program provides 35 fellowships lasting 4-6 weeks, with plans to expand that number to 40 and increase the number of training centers.

“Capacity building only comes through reaching out to the world, and the WFH started doing that more than 50 years ago. When we want to diagnose patients, we need to collaborate and we have to take advantage of the training of physicians, of nurses – and through them, reach out to patients and get them an appropriate diagnosis. The IHTC fellowship is all about that. The objective is clear: We would like to train health care professionals from developing countries in various aspects of the diagnosis and management of hemophilia and, of course, the other inherited bleeding disorders,” van den Berg said.

The Reach-the-World program has trained 21 fellows since 2010. Fellows, who may be basic research scientists or primary care professionals, have the opportunity to partner with laboratories throughout the world, where they will train for up to 4 months. The ISTH Clinical Core Curriculum was recently developed, and the plan is to use the curriculum as a mainstay for teaching in clinical thrombosis and hemostasis, and to develop training centers throughout the world, McLintock said.

Following panel discussions by program alumni from Pakistan, Thailand and Macedonia and by three program mentors, Duerr commented that “it is very clear that … it is the individuals who make the difference.”

“Providing the leadership, but also building coalitions and making it happen in your area of responsibility, both at a center level and on a country level, is really what brings this together. That is why the Reach-the-World fellowship and IHTC are very nice complementary approaches to go forward, and it’s obvious that there is a lot more that can be done here,” Duerr said, encouraging continued interest and efforts toward advancing the care of hemophilia, thrombosis and hemostasis.

Click here to learn more about the ISTH Reach-the-World Fellowships.

By Sharon Worcester |June 22, 2015