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Nicolae Testemitanu Medical University Names American Journalist and Professor as International Program Advisor

Friday, 8 February 2019

CHISINAU, MOLDOVA — Nicolae Testemitanu State University of Medicine and Pharmacy of the Republic of Moldova (Nicolae Testemitanu SUMPh) has retained Dr. Hal F. Foster Jr. as an advisor to its international program, which includes recruiting and retaining foreign students.

A major issue that the longtime American journalist and professor will address is a recent Israeli Health Ministry decision to allow only graduates of medical schools in the 36 countries in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development to practice in Israel. Foster thinks it may be a violation of international trade rules in services.

More than a fourth of Nicolae Testemitanu SUMPh’s 6,000 students are Israelis, so the Israeli Health Ministry decision, if implemented, will have a significant impact on the university’s enrollment. That’s because Moldova is not a member of the OECD.

“I spent two months as a journalist in 2018 interviewing Nicolae Testemitanu University students and faculty, and rector Ion Ababii, for a feature story about the many Israeli students studying medicine, dentistry and pharmacy at the university,” said Foster, whose story appeared in a top Israeli publication. “I was impressed with the quality of the teaching, the facilities — which are on par with those in countries that are health-care leaders — and with the graduates’ ability to pass tough medical licensing exams, including those in Israel and the United States. “I consider NicolaeTestemitanu University of Medicine world-class,” he added. “That’s why I agreed to become its international-programs advisor.”

“We are delighted that someone with the journalism, strategic-communications and legal-affairs background that Dr. Hal Foster has will be advising us on ways to make our international program even stronger,” said rector Ababii, whose decision to offer courses in English in the mid-2000s raised the university’s international profile and led to its foreign-student enrollment soaring.

Because NicolaeTestemitanu Medical University is a state institution, Foster’s appointment is subject to the approval of the Administrative Board that oversees the university’s affairs.

Foster is a former journalist at the Los Angeles Times and other top news organizations who has written extensively about trade relations and health care. He continues to do freelance journalism for news organizations in the United States and elsewhere.

He has also taught journalism, law and international relations at universities in the United States, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. And he has done journalism consulting and training in a dozen countries, including the United Arab Emirates. His Ph.D. is in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina.

“One of the things I’ll be looking at is whether the Israeli Health Ministry decision to allow only graduates of OECD medical schools to practice in Israel violates World Trade Organization rules,” Foster said. “WTO rules prohibit countries from engaging in discriminatory trade practices — that is, practices that favor some countries over others — both in goods and services trade.”He added: “As a journalist, I have done a number of stories about countries filing WTO complaints over what they perceived to be other countries’ discriminatory practices in trade in services — and those filing the complaints won many of them. At first glance, it seems to me that limiting the countries whose medical graduates are able to practice in Israel — even if those graduates are able to pass Israel’s medical licensing examinations — fits the category of discrimination in trade in services.”

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