Boom in Global Health Studies

As new university consortium meets, survey shows programs and enrollments expanding rapidly.
September 14, 2009

BETHESDA, Md. -- Representatives of 58 universities will gather at the National Institutes of Health here today for the first annual meeting of a new consortium designed to encourage development of and collaboration among academic programs in the emerging field of global health.

In conjunction with the meeting, a survey released today by the Consortium of Universities for Global Health shows rapid acceleration in universities' creation of global health programs and doubling of undergraduate and graduate enrollments in the programs since 2006.

"You cannot overstate the energy and enthusiasm on university campuses today with students who want to work on global health issues," said Mark A. Emmert, president of the University of Washington. The push for global health mirrors a rapid expansion of public health programs that have cropped on American college campuses in recent years.

Washington is among 55 universities that the consortium says have formal programs or initiatives in global health; 37 of them responded to the group's survey about their depth and breadth. Of the 37 programs, 21 had been formed since 2006, and 11 began within the last year.

Enrollments in the 37 programs also showed rapid growth, with the number of undergraduate students studying global health rising to 2,687 from 1,287 since 2006. The number of master's students grew to 2,010 from 949, and the number of doctoral students to 315 from 157.

The 37 programs surveyed reported having established "formal significant" relationships with student training programs in 97 countries on five continents and Oceania -- including 116 in Africa and 96 in Asia. And the institutions reported having 105 active student organizations, mostly developed from the grass roots up, dedicated to global health causes.

The meeting of the consortium that begins today will feature presentations by Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and Ezekiel J. Emanuel, special adviser on health policy for the White House Office of Management and Budget (and brother of President Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel), among others.


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