Our commitment to global public health is central to our vision as a leading School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. This commitment is evident in everything we do – from assisting with disaster recovery in Haiti, to training physicians locally and abroad in health care management, to informing the media about emergent threats in the environment, to improving the health of the Vietnamese community in New Orleans. It’s worthwhile to note that we are not conducting global public health simply by virtue of working abroad; rather, we demonstrate our commitment by addressing the myriad public health concerns that transcend boundaries; that impact populations across socio-economic status; that affect migrant and immigrant populations; that touch communities across the globe. The causes of global health issues are complex and interconnected. The solutions – which we take an active role to discover – require a similarly diverse, interdisciplinary approach.
It is this interdisciplinary approach that has lead us to consider the best ways to live out our global commitment to public health. Toward that end, the Departments of Health Systems Management and International Health and Development have begun exploring ways to expand their combined global impact by building on the traditions and strengths of both faculties under one banner. The two departments recently met in a retreat focused on joining forces to respond to the growing mandate for global public health education, research and leadership. Reorganization into one, globally focused department will result in new opportunities for students and faculty to play important leadership roles in global public health. We expect that joining these two robust departments will result in an even stronger one ready to take on the global health issues of our time as well as those we’ve yet to encounter.
As you can imagine, there is much work ahead. Charting a course to combine the strengths of two departments will be a process that will take some time. For those students who are on campus now or preparing to arrive this fall, rest assured that there will be no changes to the teaching programs in academic year 2010-2011.
I’m confident that under the leadership of Professor Jane Bertrand – who is uniquely qualified to plot this course – the faculty and staff involved will emerge with a plan that will honor all commitments to existing students and stakeholders, while helping to position our school as the leader in global public health research, teaching and service.
Pierre Buekens, MD, PhD