Bakir Izetbegovic, the president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, visited the University of Maryland Medical Center on March 22 to establish a cooperative relationship with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS).
The Bosnian delegation met with School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, and UMMS president and CEO Robert A. Chrencik, MBA, as well as other representatives of the School of Medicine and the Maryland National Guard, which has had a long-standing partnership with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
President Izetbegovic acknowledged that the Bosnian War was a traumatic experience, but emphasized that it ended more than 15 years ago, and since then the Bosnian economy has recovered. "This is something people don't know about," he said.
The Bosnian delegation included representatives from hospitals in Sarajevo and Tuzla. Each expressed interest in the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, the most sophisticated trauma center in the world. As a result of the Bosnian War, their country has considerable expertise in trauma care. Noting a rise in cancers of all types in Bosnia, the delegation also expressed interest in the University of Maryland's advanced oncology programs.
Chrencik provided a thorough overview of the University's hospital system. Reece was hopeful that the dialogue would lead to a long-term relationship with Bosnia and Herzegovina, similar to relationships already in existence with other countries. "The School of Medicine is Baltimore-based, but our reach is global," said Reece. "We already have a presence in 23 countries."
The Maryland delegation included School of Medicine Executive Vice Dean Bruce Jarrell, MD, FACS, who invited a special guest to attend the event: first-year medical student Vedrana Hodzic, a native of Bosnia. Hodzic greeted Izetbegovic in Bosnian, informing him that they are distant relatives.
Hodzic was born in Bosnia and lived through much of the war during the early 1990s. Thanks to connections in the United States, Hodzic's mother obtained a visa for her. Only women and children under the age of 7 were allowed to leave, and they managed to make it out of the country the day before Hodzic's seventh birthday. She grew up in Maryland, and attended the University of Maryland, College Park before coming to the School of Medicine.
The formal meeting concluded with the signing of a cooperative agreement to pursue partnerships and exchanges that would be mutually beneficial. Following a tour of the Shock Trauma Center, the delegation met with Governor Martin O'Malley in advance of a two-day business summit at the University of Baltimore.