Hirsch Institute of Tropical Medicine
Tropical Medicine Unit
The Tropical Medicine Unit was established in 1997 as part of the University Hospital for Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectious Diseases to ensure the proper management of tropical and parasitic diseases.
Since than the tasks of the Unit have expanded to cover not only curative medicine but also to prepare clients for world-wide travelling whether for occupational or for tourism purposes.
Its research activities led to International cooperations, e.g. with the World Health Organization.
Focus of Activies of the Unit
- Clinical Management of diseases occurring only or more frequently in subtropical and tropical regions and in regions with limited resources
- Occupational Medicine in Relation with Professional Activities in the South
- Travel Medicine
- Research and Teaching
Clinical Management of Diseases Occurring in Subtropical and Tropical Regions
The world-wide spectrum of tropical diseases is covered. Tropical diseases are not only intended as diseases more frequently or exclusively occurring in the inter-tropical belt but include also in subtropical, arid and desert regions. The Unit also acts as a Clinical Reference Centre for Parasitic and Emerging Infectious Diseases occurring in temperate regions.
The particular health issues in areas with limited financial resources are taken into account. Therefore, diseases include not only infectious and parasitic diseases, but also problems related to poverty. The world-wide spectrum of hereditary disorders is also covered.
The tasks are intended not only to deal with the management of tropical diseases, but also to prevent the expansion of diseases. The Unit is Member of the European Sentinel Network SIMPID, which in turn is connected with other Epidemiological Networks, such as "Pro-med" of the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, U.S.A. It is cooperating with the German National Institute for Disease Control ("Robert-Koch-Institut") and with the World Health Organization.
As examples, in the Unit was the first to signalise to the International community a malaria outbreak in the Dominican Republic among tourists to Bávaro Beach in the East of the island in 1999. In the Unit contact persons of the most recent Lassa-fever case in Germany were cared for. In 2001, the first case of autochtonous transmission in Germany was documented of a rickettsiosis (Californian Flea Fever) hitherto thought to be limited to the New World.
The Unit cares formanagers and employees of German and International enterprises with world-wide activities, among these Nokia, Siemens and Daimler-Chrysler. Personal is examined and vaccinated before employment in Overseas as well as followed-up after return. In case of persisting disorders after a stay abroad the Unit evaluates whether or not these are related to occupational exposure.
In the framework of these tasks the Unit has taken over the care for volunteers of the National German Volunteers Service (Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst, DED) since 2000 an activity which is foreseen to be continued in the new German Society of International Cooperation (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), which has been established in 2010 by the merger of the major German cooperation agencies DED and GTZ (Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit).
The Unit is a Centre for the Prevention of Diseases which may be acquired during travel activities. It is a Yellow-Fever Vaccination appointed by the Ministry of Health of the Federal State of Northrhine Westfalia. Travellers are counselled how to prevent malaria and other diseases and vaccines may be given immediately after counselling. Vaccines are stocked in the Unit.
Research and Teaching
Different from other Institutions of Tropical Medicine, our focus has been clinical research. It is intended as developing and evaluating methods and techniques, which are or may become sustainable also where financial resources are limited.The Unit is collaborating with International Institutions, physicians of the Unit acting as advisers of the World Health Organization (references to these activities are given in the appendix).
As part of the University, teaching comprises education of medical students in Tropical Medicine. Furthermore, medical colleagues are trained by means of regular courses, symposia and workshops.
The Units is appointed for post-graduate teaching in Tropical Medicine.
Courses in "Diagnostic Ultrasound in Regions with Limited Resources" and on "Use of Ultrasound in Schistosomiasis" have been established since 1999 and are held in Duesseldorf and in cooperation with other Institutions in other places in Overseas. Once to twice yearly a course on Ultrasound in Tropical Medicine is held in cooperation with the University of Pavia / Italy. Other courses have taken place in Agogo/Ghana, St. Louis/Senegal, Ziguinchor/Senegal, Wuhan/China, Bamako/Mali as well as in Lisbon/Portugal and Antwerp/Belgium. Courses are held in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish or Italian. Institutions interested in hosting such courses are invited to contact the course coordinator.
Our International Staff comprises medical colleagues who are fluent in many languages among them English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Arabic, Turkish and Russian.