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[June 22, 2006]         

 Georgian Republic’s First Lady and Tunisian Health Ministers Receive Warm Receptions
Recent visits by the first lady of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs, and by delegates from Tunisia’s Health Ministry reflect the wide scope of SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s cooperative international public health programs.
The Georgian first lady, a native of the Netherlands, is an internationally recognized healthcare advocate for disadvantaged populations, both in her adopted country and around the world.  During her visit to Downstate, she spoke to enthusiastic students about solving the health problems her country faces, such as the spread of HIV/AIDS. In the most recent statistics available, Georgia reported 163 new cases of the disease in 2004. Other health problems include hepatitis, tuberculosis, and malaria.
The visit by Ms. Roelofs was arranged by Jack DeHovitz, MD, MPH, professor of preventive medicine and of medicine and director of the HIV Center for Women and Children. Dr. DeHovitz also directs the AIDS International Training and Research Program at Downstate, which currently educates physicians and researchers from Georgia, Armenia, Russia, and Estonia.  The program has trained more than 60 physicians from those countries and others in Central and Eastern Europe, including 18 Georgians.
During their tour of the Downstate campus, high-ranking officials from the Tunisian Health Ministry caught a glimpse of HelpMate, the pharmacy’s state-of-the-art drug-dispensing robot.  The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Law Development Program and the Levin Graduate Institute of International Relations and Commerce sponsored the visit. The Levin Institute is a new, independent graduate institute within the State University training students in cross-cultural management skills.
SUNY Downstate Medical Center is the only academic medical center in Brooklyn, and is dedicated to serving the health needs of the more than 2 million people within the borough.