Our Goals

doctors_bigThe picture shows the founding members of the ORL-BAL and the OBI in the year 2003.

From left:

  • Prof. Dr. Rudolf Probst, Chairman in Basel
  • Prof. Dr. Mihael Podvinec, Head of the Aarau Department
  • Prof. Kurt Tschopp, Head of the Liestal Department
  • Dr. Silke Hasenclever, Head of the Olten Department
  • Dr. André Arnoux, Associate Head in Aarau
  • Dr. Prof. Markus Wolfensberger, Associate Chairman in Basel

History, goals, function and means of the ORL-BAL International (OBI)

ORL-BAL (see respective page of this site)  is an association of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (ORL-HNS) Departments of the Medical Faculty of the Basel University, and the respective Cantonal Hospital Teaching Departments of Aarau, Liestal and Olten, Switzerland.  We have successfully co-operated, even before the turn of the century,  in the planning and implementation of continued education and specialist training programs for trainees in Otorhinolaryngology, in providing specialist health care services, as well as conducting multicenter clinical research studies.

In the course of their visits abroad, members of ORL-BAL recognized a great need for knowledge transfer to a number of ORL-HNS Departments in emerging countries and countries in transition. The financing of postgraduate education, especially of educational travel abroad and regular acquisition of new literature is still difficult there. This again impedes the introduction of modern medical standards in specialist medical care.

Through a spontaneous initiative, we organized visits of trainees from East- and Southwest Europe in Switzerland as well as lectures by members of ORL-BAL in these countries. These were quite successful, judged by the feedback from the local colleagues. The willingness of ORL specialists from Switzerland to provide such knowledge transfer to foreign colleagues was highly valued and is, by all standards, an enrichment for ORL-BAL Departments,  also being beneficial to the image of Swiss medicine abroad. In order to focus these activities on knowledge transfer and to increase transparency, sustainability and accountability, members of ORL-BAL founded the Society of Friends of Otorhinolaryngology  [Förderverein für Otorhinolaryngologie].

After eight years of working under this name, the General Assembly of ORL-BAL decided to widen the circle of members by integrating all academic otorhinolaryngologists of the Basel University,  senior staff members of our Departments and all specialists in private practice who wish to join us. The aim of this change is to intensify activities not only abroad, but also in Switzerland on a larger scale, in order to offer possibilities for a broader international exchange of knowledge to all trainees. Since February 2011, we function under the name of

ORL-BAL International (OBI)

The whole project was officially launched in January 2003 in order to strengthen the international ties of ORL-BAL Departments with those Departments and medical organizations abroad, who expressly solicit our co-operation in providing knowledge transfer. Membership  is not limited to medical professionals.  Any person or organization prepared to support the goals of OBI is welcome as a regular, a passive or a supporting member. As a daughter organization of ORL-BAL, OBI has its seat in Basel, at the University ORL Department of the University Hospital. Statutes can be obtained at request.


OBI plans and implements projects concerning countries with limited medical resources. It concerns itself with the co-operation of physicians in matters of their post-graduate specialist training as well with supplying up to date medical expertise and pertinent literature, public health improvement being an important final goal.

It addresses itself to a sustained effort of selecting partner Departments and specialist organizations and to acquiring funds dedicated to knowledge transfer.

Functions and Means

OBI organizes visits of trainees in Switzerland, and supports traineeship in other European countries in a financially modest manner.

It cultivates contacts with the visitors with a view to sustained and lasting relationships. It strives to serve as a reference centre for the specialist organizations it supports.

OBI organizes state-of-the-art lectures and training courses with interested Departments in foreign countries.

The funds of OBI are derived from sponsoring and benefactor’s contributions and from membership fees. They are used mainly for training events (tutorials and courses). Travel abroad is financed privately by the members.

Medicus Mundi, the Swiss Network of Organization for International Cooperation in Health Care has, in 2003, accepted the membership of our Society. This membership links the Society to other Swiss organizations providing support in medical care abroad, see also www.medicusmundi.ch


OBI currently collaborates with specialist organizations in the former Yugoslav countries in the West Balkans, Slovakia and Hungary. It  has ties to respective organizations in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland and the USA.


Prof. Mihael Podvinec, President of OBI
+41793304205, www.orl-bal.info
Sekretariat ORL Universitätsklinik, Universitätsspital, Petersgraben 4, CH-4031 Basel