Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

International Health & Tropical Medicine

What is international health?

Health and disease all around the world is the subject matter of this discipline which links epidemiology, social sciences, the biology of infection, immunity and vaccinology to political science, diplomacy, economics and development studies.

What is tropical medicine?

RCSI is an international institution and has a student body drawn from the world community in a way that is quite unique for a medical school. Thus research, practice and teaching of international health forms an important part of the college.

Traditionally tropical medicine was the medical specialist which specialised in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of conditions found mostly in the tropical countries like the viruses yellow fever and dengue, protozoa like malaria and amoeba and helminths of all sorts. Many important advances in medicine and biology occurred, for example, 13D vaccine for yellow fever, development of impregnated bed-nets to prevent malaria and the elimination of smallpox.

In the last two decades this has changed and the specialty is dominated by the diseases of a resource-poor setting. HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. Delivery of best medical care in a resource poor-setting is a challenge, and combining the preventative approach with the curative one is now an important component of tropical medicine.