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The Bill Bicknell Academic Center, Motebang, Lesotho

The Bill Bicknell Academic Center, Motebang, Lesotho

The Bill Bicknell Academic Center, Motebang, Lesotho

While there have been many successes throughout the years of work in Lesotho, a central highlight is the creation of The Bicknell Academic Center completed in January 2015 in Motebang, Lesotho.

Global Primary Care is an active and engaged supporter of its partner organization, the Lesotho-Boston Health Alliance (LeBoHA) which itself has achieved important benchmarks including establishing the Family Medicine Specialty Training Program (FMSTP). This program was created to strengthen district level health services in Lesotho while encouraging Basotho medical doctors trained outside of Lesotho to return home to practice medicine. During their hospital rotations, the participants are housed at the Bill Bicknell House.

The FMSTP program was accredited by the Lesotho Council of Higher Education in 2013. Upon successful completion, the graduates qualify as Specialists/Masters in Family Medicine. 

As of December 2018, four medical doctors have completed their specialist training and are working in Lesotho. New participants are enrolled in the program which is growing stronger each year. The Bicknell Academic Center provides the residential and training facilities for the program to flourish.

The Bill Bicknell House welcomes many health professionals traveling to Motebang for training including clinical volunteers from Boston University and elsewhere. The house guests include nurse-midwives who participate in the IZUMI-funded nursing education program as well as visiting students, residents, physician educators, and other volunteers and visitors to the hospital.

The Bicknell Academic Center is named after Dr. William J. Bicknell, an outspoken, inspirational international health practitioner and advocate who was the Founder and Chair Emeritus of the Boston University School of Public Health department of international health. Bicknell devoted the last years of his life to expand the work of the Lesotho-Boston Health Alliance to improve Lesotho’s medical capacity by strengthening hospitals, and to the Family Medicine Specialist Training Program to help the impoverished country retain physicians.

Bill died before seeing the building named for him and which is a tangible reminder of his commitment to the people of Lesotho. Dr. Bicknell’s legacy is carried on by his wife and Global Primary Care Board member, Professor Jane Hale. Professor Hale delivered a heart-warming speech [see speech on this page] at the ribbon cutting ceremony dedicating the Bicknell House. Watch the highlights [see video on this page] of the dedication ceremony here.

Donors [EZ3] to Global Primary Care help to sustain the Bicknell Academic Center in numerous ways including financially supporting volunteers who contribute their time, talent, and skill to working with healthcare professionals in Lesotho. The educational programs for doctors and nurses also benefit from Global Primary Care’s assistance by providing the equipment and supplies essential to the training programs. Your support keeps the dreams alive for the doctors, nurses, and people of Lesotho.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Jane’s speech at the Bicknell House dedication ceremony

Lumelang bo ‘me, bo ‘ntate.[1]  I am both humbled and proud to stand before this wonderful crowd today.  It is my honor to bring you warm greetings and to convey deep gratitude on behalf of all my husband’s family for the magnificent memorial we are dedicating to him today.

The most fitting way to honor Bill is to continue reaching out to people, especially young people, to ask about their dreams and devise ways to open doors that he would then urge them to walk through, with him by their side, or perhaps a little behind them, so they could lead the way.

Bill was a truly happy man who loved to share his life with others.  He enjoyed bringing people of different ages and backgrounds together to learn from, teach, and support one another, and that is exactly what this beautiful house will do.  Bill also loved to laugh, and I hope the house will often be filled with laughter.

Thank you to everyone who made today possible, and to all of you who will continue to support the young doctors who will live and learn and teach in this house.

Bill loved Lesotho deeply.  He had many friends here who have also welcomed me with warm hospitality.  I am deeply grateful that Lesotho has offered this lovely spot in the mountains to house his spirit and to continue his legacy of love and learning.

Bo ‘me, bo ‘ntate, kea leboha haholo.[2]

[1] Hello, ladies and gentlemen.
[2] Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.  [Leboha, which means “thank you,” is also the acronym for Bill’s project in Lesotho:  the Lesotho Boston Health Alliance (LeBoHA).]

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