University of Toronto inks major agreement in China

The University of Toronto (U of T) has signed an important agreement with China’s Fudan University, which will see the two institutions develop joint activities to build education capacity in primary health care and public health.

U of T's Professor Cynthia Whitehead signing the memorandum with Professor Zhu Shanzhu, Dean of the Department of General Practice, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University

Only three per cent of all physicians in China are family doctors — a situation that strains the Chinese health care system generally, and hospitals in particular. To help remedy this, the Chinese government plans to train 100,000 family physicians by 2020.

“This formalized partnership with Fudan University is an outcome of close collaboration benefiting both countries, as evidenced by the presence of health ministers from Canada and China,” said Professor Cynthia Whitehead, the acting chair of U of T’s Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) who headed the delegation to China. “We are thrilled to expand our cooperation with Fudan University across several activities and continue finding collaborative ways to solve health care issues in both countries.”

Under the agreement, DFCM — the largest family medicine training program in North America — will work with Fudan University’s Department of General Practice to improve the quality of its general practice training. This work will include an exchange of faculty members between Toronto and Shanghai.

In addition, DFCM will develop a partnership with two community health services centres in Shanghai to assist with delivery and management of primary health care. Both parties agreed to strengthen ties and cooperate in the prevention and control of chronic diseases, with a focus on health management for high-risk populations.

The agreement — formally called a Memorandum of Understanding — adds to an already strong partnership between U of T and Fudan University. The Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Genetics also has long history of cooperation with partners in Shanghai.

“This agreement is a critical step forward that signifies a deepening of the relationship between the Faculty of Medicine and Fudan University,” said U of T Medicine's Dean Catharine Whiteside. “International collaborations like this one help build and improve learning networks, create unprecedented opportunities for collaborative research, and provide exciting cultural opportunities for our students and faculty — all aligned with the mutual commitment to improving health.”

Vitaly Kazakov is a writer with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.