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April 5, 2006  

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Launches Five-Year Program to Improve Public Health Education in Africa

USAID Provides $2 Million to Build Leadership and a Public Health Network

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health will lead a five-year initiative to strengthen the capacity of public health schools in East Africa. Work will begin initially with Makerere University in Uganda and Muhimbili College of Health Sciences in Tanzania. The goal of the initiative is to create and sustain a network of trained public health professionals to provide leadership to the entire region. Initial funding for programs comes from a $2 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Higher Education for Development.

“Africa faces many public health challenges from AIDS to malaria to poor nutrition. As African nations receive more global assistance, including the President’s $9 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and $1.2 billion from the President’s Malaria Initiative, there is a critical need for trained personnel who can provide leadership, and develop innovative national policy. Africa has a shortage of public health personnel who can coordinate and implement these projects, monitor their progress, and carry out the research needed to make them more effective,” said Gilbert Burnham, MD, PhD, director of the initiative and professor of international health at the Bloomberg School. “Uganda and Tanzania have established excellent public health schools. Our aim is to strengthen their capabilities for developing faculty and training students, not only in the two countries but regionally as well. The increasing convergence of administrative structures among the East African states offers an unprecedented opportunity to develop common regional approaches toward public health leadership and training approaches.”

As part of the initiative, the Bloomberg School of Public Health and partners from Tulane University School of Public Health and the George Washington University School of Public Policy and Public Administration will help develop a common leadership curriculum for the African public health schools. Burnham explained that building a public health network among faculty, students, practitioners and policy makers will help develop a strong commitment to the public health agenda through the East Africa region. To keep skills current and to build leadership capacities, the initiative will focus on short training courses for mid- and senior-level health managers.

In addition to traditional classroom courses, curriculum will also be available online. Free course materials will be available online through the Bloomberg School’s OpenCourseWare site. The Internet will also be a key component for networking schools of public health in Africa to discuss common issues and exchange experiences and ideas between faculties as well as students.

To improve teaching capacities, Johns Hopkins and Tulane will also offer academic development programs for public health faculty at Makerere University and Muhimbili College of Health Sciences.

“The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has worked in partnership with the Ugandan and Tanzanian public health schools from their earliest days. This now is an exciting new opportunity to help the two schools build a public health leadership capacity, not only to help the people of the two countries, but in the neighboring countries of Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Eritrea,” said Burnham.

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Lowe at 410-955-6878 or