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Gates Foundation Donates $40 Million to School

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $40 million to the School to support family planning and reproductive health initiatives in developing nations, where unintended pregnancies and unsafe childbearing are a major cause of illness and death.

The grant will provide continued funding for the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health. The Gates Institute works to establish enduring education programs and train new leaders in developing countries; to develop and transfer program technology, models, and practices; and to conduct collaborative research and translate findings into programs and policies.

Of the 210 million pregnancies that occur worldwide each year, 66 million are unwanted and lead to 20 million unsafe abortions, the majority of which occur in the developing world. If the 120 million women in developing countries who want and need family planning services had access to them, these and future unintended pregnancies could be prevented.

“We are tremendously grateful to the Gates Foundation,” said Alfred Sommer , MD, MHS '73, dean of the School. “The foundation’s vision and generosity will enable the Institute to continue its important work of training and strengthening the reproductive health leadership of the developing world,” added Dean Sommer.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health was established at the School of Public Health in 1999 with a $20 million gift from the Gates Foundation, following a successful pilot grant awarded to the School in 1997. Since its launch, the Institute has actively pursued its primary mission of developing and strengthening the capacity of individuals and institutions in the developing world to address their most pressing and overarching problems related to population, family planning, and reproductive health.

“Improving reproductive health services in developing countries could save millions of lives, but it requires stronger in-country human and institutional capacity,” said Helene Gayle, MD, MPH '81, director of HIV, TB, and Reproductive Health for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “We’re delighted to be able to help continue and expand the Institute’s pioneering work.”

The Gates Institute will continue “developing core leadership in family planning through organized collaborative research and leadership forums in the United States and abroad.” The forums will address cutting-edge family-planning issues and strategies in the context of other health challenges.

The Gates Institute will also continue to invest in sustainable partnerships with key academic institutions in the developing world. The goal is for these institutions to provide training that will build local leadership with a strong commitment to population and reproductive health and to carry out research on significant policy issues. The Institute plans to collaborate with up to 25 institutions in 23 priority countries.

“The need for individual and institutional leadership focused on sustained commitment to family planning, sexual health care, and maternity care has never been greater,” said Amy Tsui, PhD, director of the Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health and professor in the School’s Department of Population and Family Health Sciences. “An investment in building that leadership capacity now will produce future dividends by enabling families and communities to improve and protect their health.”


SARS Emerges as New Public Health Threat

SARS virus under microscope
Within a few short months, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) has erupted into a global public health crisis. It was only March 12 when the World Health Organization (WHO) first issued a global health alert about a mysterious pneumonia-like illness spreading throughout parts of Asia. Since then, the deadly disease has forced government officials worldwide to close schools, restrict travel, and quarantine thousands. Daily news reports chart the spread of the disease as people in China and Hong Kong wear surgical masks in an effort to protect themselves from the illness. On May 14, Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS ’73, dean of the School, convened a conference at the School to examine the SARS epidemic.

At press time, the disease had infected over 5,000 people in 28 countries, including the United States. One suspected case of SARS was treated at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The number of SARS deaths remained low with most occurring in Hong Kong and China’s Guangdong Province, where the disease first emerged. A number of deaths were also reported in Toronto, Canada, which forced the WHO to issue a travel warning for the city in late April. Earlier that month, the spread of SARS prompted Dean Sommer to issue a travel advisory recommending that students and faculty traveling to affected areas postpone their trips if at all possible. Additionally, Johns Hopkins University decided to dismiss its joint graduate studies program in Nanjing, China, six weeks early.

Information for Travelers

If you are traveling out of the country, make sure you are prepared and up-to-date on the SARS and health warnings. Here are some agencies and organizations you may contact before traveling.

United States Department of State
The U.S. State Department provides warnings, information, and advisories for citizens traveling abroad. Information is available online at

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The latest information on disease outbreaks and health warnings worldwide is available from the CDC at

Johns Hopkins International Travel Clinic
For anyone traveling to a less developed part of the world, be certain to contact your health care provider. The Johns Hopkins International Travel Clinic also provides information about recommended immunizations and other matters to guard your health. You can contact the clinic at 410-955-8931.

Office of International Student, Faculty, and Staff Services
It is imperative that our international students, faculty, and staff contact the Office of International Student, Faculty and Staff Services before undertaking any international travel. The number is 410-955-3371.

Scientists from the WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified a previously unknown coronavirus as the cause of SARS. In a 1998 article for the American Society of Microbiology, Donald Burke, MD, professor in International Health and Epidemiology, predicted that coronavirus was among the most likely candidates for newly infectious diseases. He believes that health officials may have a six-month window of opportunity to eradicate SARS altogether, especially if the disease proves to be seasonal and rates decline in the summer. Otherwise, the disease could return in the winter even stronger than before.

“History teaches us that the devastating 1918 influenza epidemic began with a modest ‘herald wave’ in spring that faded away during the summer, only to explode and wreck global devastation the following fall and winter,” wrote Dr. Burke in an op-ed article for The Wall Street Journal. “It is possible that SARS, now seeded around the globe, could follow a similar pattern and fade away this summer, only to erupt again next winter. The coming summer lull in SARS affords an extraordinary opportunity. If we can detect, diagnose, and effectively isolate every contagious case during the period when the infection rate is at its lowest, it is possible that we can truly eradicate SARS, not just for the short term, but permanently,” said Dr. Burke.

Heightened Security
You may have noticed some changes around the School recently. Extra security guards now watch the entrances to check the identification badges of everyone who enters—whether the person is known or not. The move is part of an increasing effort to provide safety and security to everyone attending the School. “We take security very seriously,” says William McLean, director of Corporate Security for the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. He is responsible for security at the Schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Nursing, Johns Hopkins Bayview, and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Corporate Security personnel were added to check ID badges.

The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions have some 280 security officers in East Baltimore, including the internal security officers in the buildings and the protective services officers on the streets. Hopkins also employs around 300 Baltimore City police on an off-duty capacity, with a dozen or so on duty at one time. “This way, there are armed security officers at any given time, so we don’t have to depend on 911 if there is a problem,” says McLean.

Nine years ago, Johns Hopkins formed the Office of Corporate Security to bring security administration in-house and oversee the security force contracted through Broadway Services. Security also maintains daily contact with local and national law enforcement. Today, crime on campus is at an all-time low, McLean says.

Since the events of September 11, security has grown even tighter. Corporate Security has developed a detailed contingency plan for different stages of alert and for every type of disaster. Moreover, in the past year, Corporate Security established a Special Response Unit (SRU). The SRU is an eight-person, highly trained group, hand-picked from internal ranks. This group has received specialized training, from local and federal law enforcement agencies, in bomb threats, hazardous substances, and VIP protection.

Corporate Security also works with the Johns Hopkins’ Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR). CEPAR was jointly developed by the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) following September 11. Although each division of Johns Hopkins maintains its own disaster plan, CEPAR has set priorities for Johns Hopkins University as a whole should a disaster overwhelm one entity, or involve two or more areas. CEPAR also has an external mission: to serve as a model disaster planning and response system for major metropolitan areas in the United States and worldwide.

The most important thing you can do to help with security is to visibly display your ID badge. Remember, security officers are required to check them. Also, report any suspicious activity to a security officer. McLean says that people often see things, but don’t tell anyone. Lastly, be sure to secure your own property and that of Johns Hopkins. Don’t leave a laptop sitting unattended.

School Assists Iraqi Relief Efforts

Following the war with Iraq, the United States must deal with the difficult task of rebuilding the country and meeting the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. Faculty members from the School’s Center for International Emergency, Disaster, and Refugee Studies (CIEDRS) became involved with relief efforts even before the fighting started in March.

Dr. VanRooyan tours an Iraqi pediatric hospital in January 2003.

At press time, relief efforts were just beginning as the U.S. military began restoring order and establishing an interim government. Basic services such as electricity, running water, and medical care still needed to be re-established in many parts of the country.

In April, Gilbert Burnham, MD, PhD, associate professor in International Health and co-director of CIEDRS, went to Amman, Jordan, to help the international relief organization CARE coordinate the distribution of food. “This is more than making sure trucks get to where they are supposed to. We will be monitoring the nutritional status of vulnerable populations and making sure things are get better, not worse,” explained Dr. Burnham. According to Dr. Burnham, CARE and the World Food Program expect to deliver between 12,000 and 16,000 tons of food to the people each day. Eventually he says CIEDRS could be involved in training public health workers in Iraq. Iraq has very few qualified public health officials.

Relief workers have a difficult task ahead them, according to Michael VanRooyen, MD, MPH, co-director of CIEDRS and vice chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the School of Medicine. He said Iraqi’s fragile health infrastructure has deteriorated under 12 years of United Nations sanctions and Saddam Hussein’s rule. “Before the war, 60 percent of the population relied on a complex food distribution network set up under the Oil for Food Program,” said Dr. VanRooyen, who was part of a team of researchers who traveled to Iraq in January to assess the country’s public health, water, food distribution, and health care delivery systems.

The Iraqi medical facilities must also be replenished. Dr. VanRooyen explained that Iraqi doctors are well trained, but lack supplies and equipment, a situation that was made worse with recent episodes of looting. “The long-term need will be to establish a functioning medical practice system. The Iraqi government did all of the public health surveillance, which now will need to be replaced,” said Dr. VanRooyen.

Cover ThinkGREEN At the School | In Memoriam | SARS Threat
Gates Foundation Gift |
Iraqi Relief Efforts | Photos of Cambodia | Awards & Honors 

© 2005 by The Johns Hopkins University