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World Health Impact: ATS MECOR

Loyal to its tagline, the American Thoracic Society helps the world breathe. To carry out its mission of improving health worldwide by advancing research, clinical care, and public health in respiratory disease, critical illness, and sleep disorders, the ATS developed a multi-tiered approach. The work of the Society stretches beyond its U.S. borders and U.S. membership.

For over 20 years the ATS has been working to build research capacity in low- and middle-income countries through its Methods in Epidemiologic, Clinical, and Operations Research (MECOR) program. The centerpiece of the Society’s international lung health efforts and signature of its global health portfolio, this intensive course for physicians and related health care professionals increases capacity and leadership in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine research. Promising students of the program compete for ATS MECOR Research Awards and are also awarded scholarships to attend the ATS International Conference to present their research.

Starting this month, the ATS is launching MECOR 2.0, which includes a ground-up redesign of the curriculum, course organization, and mentorship offerings. The update  course capitalizes and builds upon the program’s extensive experience and expertise. Since 1994, the scope of the ATS MECOR program has grown tremendously. Today, its footprint is truly global with more than 1800 graduates from its courses.  Below is a snapshot of MECOR’s partnerships and global reach:

  • South America, in partnership with the Latin American Thoracic Society
  • Europe in partnership with the Turkish Thoracic Society
  • Africa in partnership with the Pan African Thoracic Society
  • Asia and Asia Pacific, including
  • India in partnership with the US CDC/Indian CDC, Indian Chest Society, Indian Council on Medical Research
  • Vietnam in partnership with the U. of Sydney, National TB Program of Vietnam, World Health Organization
  • China in partnership with the W. China School of Medicine/W. China Hospital/Chinese Thoracic Society/NHLBI
  • Indonesia, in partnership with the Indonesian Society of Respirology.

The current year’s course schedule is on our website.

As MECOR continues to grow and evolve in 2018, you will hear more from Philip Hopewell, MD, tasked with leading the next stage of the program. Stay tuned for next month’s installment of our two-part series.

Learn More: Global Lung Health

Major issues in global lung health have been summarized in the FIRS Report: Respiratory Diseases of the World, produced by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies. The forum is composed of the world’s leading international respiratory societies, of which ATS is a founding member. Similar to the ATS, the goal of FIRS is to unify and enhance efforts to improve lung health throughout the world.

To reduce the burden of respiratory disease, the forum has several recommendations. Enhancing low- and middle-income countries’ health care infrastructure and public policy are important parts of the necessary groundwork. These investments will improve economies, increase access to quality care and medicines, and increase public health efforts overall.

With respiratory disease in particular, there is a great need for better diagnostic measures. This can be accomplished through increased training for health care providers. Of equal importance is FIRS’ recommendation to increase research and “develop programmes, tools, and strategies to better prevent and treat respiratory diseases.”

To address the full spectrum of disease, countries will have to work together in strengthening not only diagnoses interventions but also long-term treatment and lung disease prevention. The ATS MECOR program is vital to implementing sustainable change.

Editor’s note: This is the first part of a two-part article. The second part appears in the March edition.