By Professor Charlie Jeffery, Senior Vice-Principal, the University of Edinburgh

Edinburgh & CMC Vellore sign MoU

This morning we marked the launch of a unique joint programme – the new Master of Family Medicine (MFM) – run by the University of Edinburgh with the Christian Medical College, Vellore and the Indian Christian Medical and Dental Association (ICMDA). The MFM aims to increase capacities in primary health care in developing countries through additional training for family doctors, especially those working in rural areas where access to good health care is often highly limited.

There are mounds of evidence telling us that better early intervention by family doctors has tremendous benefits for health outcomes and all that goes with those better outcomes. The MFM is a blended learning programme, building on Edinburgh expertise in on-line medical education, the Christian Medical College’s status as one of the leading medical schools in India, and ICMDA members’ hospitals, which will offer internships to students. Today we were celebrating the first MFM cohort of 28 students from 15 different countries – and very quickly began in a workshop discussion on family medicine to think about the scope for extending the programme to more students in more countries…

I took time out from the family medicine workshop to give a lecture on the upcoming UK election in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Madras, one of India’s longest established universities (many thanks to the British High Commission in India for helping to arrange the lecture). The Head of Department, Professor Ramu Manivannan hosted, and I was welcomed with a presentation (some of their slides are below) on last year’s Scottish independence referendum by a group of his Master’s students (along with a massive garland of red roses – a first for me!).

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The level of interest in UK politics was high and the quality of insight in the students’ questions very good. We ought to be looking to build similar interest and expertise in Indian politics at Edinburgh…One thing we discussed afterwards with Professor Manivannan was whether we could work with the University of Madras to put on summer schools in Indian politics, ideally credit-bearing so they would formally count to Edinburgh degrees. Something for our Centre for South Asian Studies to think about?