New Grad School To Address Global Issues

    The next stage in planning for the UC School of Global Health, a proposed systemwide graduate school that will train professionals to take on a variety of global issues, took place last month when university scientists Haile Debas and Sir Richard Feachem formally proposed an outline for the school before the UC Board of Regents.

    Debas, director of the UC San Francisco School of Global Health Sciences, and Feachem, who is a professor of global health at UCSF and UC Berkeley, intend the school to be an interdisciplinary effort that will meet the tremendous need for the training of new professionals to tackle increasing global health issues­ — including pandemics, re-emerging infections, chronic disease, poverty and healthcare disparities, climate change and the safety and security of global food and water supplies.

    In a statement released by UCSF, Debas said the initiative is meant to respond not only to rising global health challenges in the state of California, but also to an enormous demand from the nation’s top post-graduate-school applicants for programs that address global health needs.

    “Today’s level of interest in global health among UC faculty and students is phenomenal,” Debas said. “The best and the brightest students see the availability of global health training as a key factor in their selection of schools and training programs.”

    A recent UC survey of 46,505 students at the San Diego and Los Angeles campuses revealed that 54 percent of undergraduates are “somewhat or very interested” in a major or minor in global health, with 11 percent expressing their interest in the persual of graduate-level studies in the field.

    A second survey revealed that more than 80 percent of UC faculty whose work addresses global health issues recognize a dire need for increased training at both masters and doctoral levels and in continuing education courses for faculty and technical staff.

    “Global health extends beyond the traditional definition of international or public health to include the critical connections between global issues and our own local communities, such as the effects of climate change on our health, migration, clean energy and the safety of our food and water,” Feachem said. “It also addresses issues such as the disparate life expectancies worldwide, diverse health systems, immigrants’ declining health while living in California, and the role immigration plays in filling California’s vast needs for nurses and other health-care workers.”

    Alec Rosenberg, strategic communications coordinator for the UC Office of the President, said that extensive development of the future graduate school has taken place over the last year.

    “Planning for the school, which has been underway since August 2007, was originally proposed by the UC Long Range Guidance Team in 2005 and was subsequently recommended by faculty on the UC Exploratory Committee,” he said.

    According to Rosenberg, the proposed school will be a multicampus program, with five or more global health centers that will link participating campuses throughout the state, and an administrative center at one of the 10 UC campuses. Each health center will focus on a separate major challenge, whether it be infectious diseases, climate change or food security.

    Initial planning for the UC School of Global Health was supported by an 18-month grant from UCOP. The planning of Phase II is currently underway and will be supported by grants from major donors.

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