Global Health for Dummies: What everyone deserves to know
It’s been a great time so far in the Global Health Science Program here at Oxford. I am privileged to be in class with 24 other very smart and highly achieving young people from thirteen different countries. While the class is almost evenly divided between medical doctors and non-medics, there is a wide diversity in our backgrounds; from biology majors to international development experts; from published authors to WHO experts. Sometimes, I wonder if they made a mistake in admitting me.
The Department of Public Health (which is where we belong) is a department of the Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford. It is based at the Old Road Campus, Headington. The Department of Public Health provides a strong environment of multi-disciplinary research and teaching and includes distinguished groups and units such as the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group, The Health Economics Research Centre, The National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, the Health Services Research Unit, the Oxford Centre for Ethics and Communication in Health Care and the Unit of Health Care Epidemiology.
The MSc in Global Health Science aims to recruit students whom it believes will be able to assume leadership positions within major international health organisations and ministries of health. The course was founded by Dr. Harold Jaffe, Associate Director for Science at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and member of the original task force assigned to study the earliest cases of AIDS.
We all have to take four compulsory core modules during the 1st term (Michaelmas):
- Challenges in global health
- Principles of epidemiology
- Principles of statistical methods for epidemiology
- Health policy and public health
There is an introductory 1-week course at the beginning of the 2nd term (Hilary) in critical appraisal. We then undertake two advanced modules (and up to two audits) selected from a list of five options:
- Tropical medicine
- Health economics
- Health, environment and development
- International development
- Maternal and child health
Having completed core and advanced optional modules and the exams (held 0th week Trinity), we will then complete an overseas research attachment and dissertation during Trinity and Long Vacation with a 10,000 word dissertation to be submitted during the Long Vacation.
There is also a mandatory Management & Leadership Course in Michaelmas term, and a Public Health in Practice group project to be completed over the first two terms.
One of the great aspects of the program, is that they realize some of us do not really know a tumor from a vein, and so there are some special sessions titled “ Non-Medics Sessions” designed to introduce those of us not smart enough to get into medical school (yet) to the basic science behind some of the core topics. Hence we have ‘Diabetes for Non-Medics’, and ‘Cancer for Non-Medics’,etc.
I have enjoyed those sessions and learnt so much that I feel some of that information ought to be known by everyone. Hence in following with the common ‘For Dummies’ books, I plan to put up a couple of ‘Global Health for Dummies’ posts as we go through some of those sessions. I hope you will find them useful, and kind enough to provide feedback