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SPPH community helping to launch BC Global Health network

Nov 29, 2017 |

School of Population and Public Health students, faculty, and alumni are helping to launch a global health network in British Columbia.

Four students, two faculty members and an alumna were part of a meeting in Kelowna in October of the BC Coalition Institute (BCCI) of the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research (CCGHR), where there was “enthusiastic support” for an on-the-ground, provincial version of the CCGHR network, or a ‘community of practice’, Professor Jerry Spiegel said. The BCCI involves five universities, including the University of British Columbia.

Dr. Spiegel is part of the steering committee to establish the network, which is developing the terms of reference for approval before a formal launch, slated for early 2018.

The network would look at how global health researchers could work together on projects, share complementary expertise, and provide practical support, including having the critical mass for dealing with practical issues such as extending food security projects in Canada, and creating interdisciplinary global health research doctorates in both UBC campuses, Dr. Spiegel said. The network was a platform to create a community for this kind of work, he said.

“As the profiles and experience of community of practice members become better known to one other, the possibilities are endless for developing new initiatives and avoiding redundancies.”
Professor Jerry Spiegel

Also involved in launching the network are representatives of a Student and Young Professionals group. Master of Public Health alumna Nisrine El Amiri attended the BCCI meeting and said as a young professional, she was eager to join and be a part of the local global health community. As a recent graduate, being part of such a network would be a great opportunity to connect with people with similar interests and at different stages of their career, she said.

“Identifying individuals with global health interests in our own local communities will allow us to explore certain opportunities together and discuss pertinent issues with other passionate individuals.”
Master of Public Health alumna Nisrine El Amiri

The network will involve a province-wide distance learning course focusing on CCGHR principles, SPPH 581K-DL: Practical Knowledge and Skills for Working in Global Health. Starting in January 2018, the course will be co-led by Professor Annalee Yassi and BC coalition members from three BC universities, Dr. Yassi said. “It is expected that with students and faculty from various university programs in global health, the interactions should offer very rich discussion and opportunities.”

SPPH 581K-DL teaching assistant and SPPH doctoral student Prince Adu said global health was a large and diverse field in which it could be easy to feel lost and lonely. Researchers could miss out on potential collaborative opportunities that might exist elsewhere in the province.

“We could benefit from shared expertise and experiences. That is what this network provides – a local community of practice for people interested in global health.”
SPPH doctoral student Prince Adu

Dr. Spiegel said the network would link people together to share experiences and lessons learned, including Interior Health, which was involved with the Kelowna meeting.

Global health raised challenges that existed not just internationally but in Canada’s own backyards, he said. Being directly connected with health authorities helped researchers focus and think about how to tackle heath issues.

Pictured from left: Prince Adu, SPPH doctoral student Elizabeth Wilcox, Nisrine El Amiri, Annalee Yassi, Jerry Spiegel, and SPPH doctoral candidate Bjorn Stime.

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