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School of Medicine opens new Center for Global Public Health

Published: Monday, January 27, 2014

Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 07:01

Tufts University School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health and Community Medicine last December established the new Tufts Center for Global Public Health (CGPH) to serve as a strategic platform and resource through which global health projects will be coordinated, developed, implemented and supported. 

Although Tufts researchers have been involved in community health projects in the developing world for a long time, many of these initiatives have been one-on-one deals between individuals and local hospital or school departments, according to Dean of the School of Medicine Harris Berman.

“It seemed like there was a real opportunity to ... be able to expand what we do to offer opportunities to our students and our researchers if we could coordinate these through a center,” he said. 

Director of the CGPH Mkaya Mwamburi believes the new center will also facilitate collaboration with government and United Nations organizations, such as the World Health Organization, which often do not work with individual researchers. 

“Faculty [of the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine] have been involved in global health research and implementation for over 15 years,” Mwamburi told the Daily in an email. “However, these global health activities, although remarkable, were, until the creation of the [center], driven by agenda at the individual level rather than at a well-coordinated and aligned group or center level.”

Joyce Sackey, the dean of Multicultural Affairs and Global Health at the School of Medicine, explained that the new center would provide a space for researchers with similar interests to convene and learn from one another. 

“That also creates opportunity for us to come together for new research [and] will yield to having additional areas of research and collaboration,” she said.  

The center will bring together researchers not only from Tufts School of Medicine, but also from the university’s other institutions, including the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. 

“A lot of the challenges we face globally, when you’re working in global health, really require multi-disciplinary collaboration,” Sackey said.

According to Mwamburi, discussion for creating the center began about six years ago and continued until the center’s launch on Dec. 5 of this past year. 

Research areas at the center include HIV/AIDS, nutrition, food security, heart disease, diabetes, environmental health and cervical cancer, according to Mwamburi. The center is also involved in the OneHealth approach, which is an integrated effort that includes the contribution of animals and the environment to human health, well-being and livelihoods, according to its website.

According to Mwamburi, the center has already begun working with many rural and urban communities within the United States as well as abroad, in countries including Kenya, Namibia, India, Haiti, Guatemala, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Projects involve developing health screening and care delivery programs in resource-limited settings, and supporting the research and needs of international non-governmental organizations like World Vision, CARE and Oxfam International. 

“The center coordinates on-going collaborations to optimize efficiency and resource use, while expanding with newer formal collaborations ... with foundations and corporate entities that are involved in global health to further extend our reach,” Mwamburi said. 

Sackey said she was excited to see how the center will foster collaboration not only among researchers, but also among students and faculty.

“It’s a good opportunity [for students] to have a research position or engage with faculty members in doing [field work] that is required as part of their degree,” she said. “They will benefit from having a more collaborative, a more centralized resource.”

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