British Medical Journal 1994; 309:736-737.

Global health network university proposed

Editor, - Recently we pointed out the potential of the information superhighway to become a critical factor in improving global health in the next century(1). One important aspect of the telecommunications revolusion is to enable distance education. We believe that it is time to establish a global training programme in public health through the capabilites that the internet provides and are enlisting faculaty and students to join this effort.

Developing countries are facing the twin burdens of chronic disease and infectious disease. As the result of increased longevity, chronic diseasees have emerged, yet infectious diseases have not been eliminated. Recently a World Bank report argued that cost effective public health measures represent a primary means for disease prevention and a reduction of the enormous cost of disease. (2)

The establishment of public health measures requires trained public health staff. Many developing countries have no choice but to send students abroad for training. This is enormously expensive - tuition, fees, and stipends at an American school of public health for a two year MPH degree cost over $80,000, but unfortunatley the costs are higher as more than 50% of students do not return home after completeing their degree. Thus, increasing the number of foreign trained MPH staff in a country requires an investment of over $160,000. In addition, we are in a global community of health, yet our students in developing and developed countries alike have little international experience.

We are in the process of establishing a telecommunications based public health training program. This program will grant degrees in public health, as well as provide internationally recognised certificates for those students receiving their public health degrees from their home institutions. Students can also take courses to gain international experience. We are seeking expert members of faculty of public health in school, ministries of health, and other areas who could serve as mentors and instructors for a new "metaschool" of publi heatlh that could train students through the internet and on the basis of how we learn through networks. (3)

The first step of this is to identify potential faculty in epidemiology and other disciplines from schols of public health who are facile on the internet who would like to teach in this meta-school. The second step is to network, across country boundaries, young people starting their training in public health so as to start a global training dialogue among students themselves and thr faculty. The third step is to begin the degree granting programme.

Students and faculty interested in forming a global health network university (GHNet-U), please contact one of us below.

Ronald E. LaPorte
Disease Monitoring and Telecommuncations
WHO Collaborating Center
Graduate School of Public Health
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA

Shunichi Akazawa
World Health Organization
Geneva, Switzerland

Eugene Boostrom
Wolrd Bank
Washington, DC

Miguel Campos
Universidad Peruana
Cayetano Heredia

Carlos Gamboa
Pan American Health Organization
Washington, DC

Tony Gooch
Dumfries, VA

Hong-Kyu Lee
Seoul National University
Seoul, Korea

Ingrid Libman
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA

Eric Marler
North Tarrytown, NY

Ken Roko
US Agency for International Development
Rosslyn, VA

Francois Sauer
Digital Corporation
Dearfield, FL

Naoko Tajima
Jikei University
Tokyo, Japan

Walter Wieve
federal Networking Council
National Science Foundation

1 LaPorte RE, Akazawa S, Hellmonds P, Boostrom E, Gamboa C, Gooch T, et al. Global public health and the information superhighway. BMJ 1994, 308:1651-2 (25 June)
2 World Bank. Development report. 1993: investing in health. Oxford: Oxford Univesity Press, 1993
3 Riel M. Global education through learning circles. In: Harsim L, ed. Global network: London, MIT Press, 1993:221-6.