Global health (GH) is defined in a variety of ways. It encompasses interdisciplinary ways of studying and rights and equity. Global health works to address the challenges of health and wellbeing (for people and populations) in the context of globalisation and other health challenges in the 21st Century.
In Iran specifically, and the West Asia region more generally, there are currently no courses of study devoted to global health. This is a major gap in the health teaching portfolio of the region, particularly given the burden of several health challenges:
* the shift from infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases - in part arising from the forces of globalisation - and identification of effective and sustainable strategies to prevent and manage these diseases
* the impact of war, conflict and population displacement on peoples' health, including through their access to health services. The region is currently home to the world’s largest populations of refugees, migrants and displaced persons. Iran has a million documented and an estimated 2.6 million undocumented migrants. Moreover, the high frequency of natural disasters in Iran and surrounding countries (e.g. earthquakes, floods, environmental degration ) contributes to disease burden and sociatal challenges
The absence of global health study programmes in Iran represents a major gap in training for a new generation of health practitioners, policy-makers and policy-influencers, who are faced with complex population-health challenges that are unlikely to be met through traditional public health teaching.
Aiming to address the complexities of GH and its specific needs in Iran, as well as the countries of West Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean region, and bringing into consideration the lack of official training in the subject in the region, a consortium has been formed to establish a tailored master degree in GH along with a Center of Excellence (CoE) in Iran.
Funded by the European Union (EU), the consortium, so-called INPACT: “IraN European PArtnership for Capacity-building and Teaching in GH” brings together 3 of the most highly respected academic institutions teaching global health in Europe, working collaboratively with 3 top-ranking health and medical institutions in Iran. The consortuim consists of Maastricht University (the Netherlands), Heidelberg University (Germany) and Tampere University (Finland), from Europe plus Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS), Kerman University of Medical Sciences (KMU), and National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) from Iran. Through partnership and collaboration, the INPACT also aims at training efficient human resources and promoting the core concepts of GH that are tailored to the regional context and character.
The center of excellence is expected to perform as the regional hub for state of the art research and training, which will equip the human resources for health in line with the principles and core capacities to reach sustainable health development, in Iran, the region and perhaps beyond.
The aim of this program is to strengthen capacities of Higher Education Institutes (HEI) in Iran to address complex global health challenges specific to the West Asia and Middle East region.
Its specific objectives are:
- To develop a blended learning Masters programs in global health in Iran with relevance for West Asia and the Middle Eastern and Northern African region
- To plan and initiate a collaborative center for training in global health that can serve as a knowledge hub for the region.
- To Develop technological infrastructure and capacity in Iran to run distance learning courses
- To develop knowledge, competency and skills in innovative interdisciplinary pedagogical teaching approaches
- To facilitate cross-learning and support internationalization of global health curricula and teaching in European HEIs.
The outcome of this program is the establishment of an innovative, competence-based, multidisciplinary curriculum in Global Health, including an established cadre of educators and blended learning infrastructure for Global Health teaching.
The impact of this capacity building program will be contribute to the strengthening of Iran as a regional hub for teaching and training in global health. The enhanced capacity will contribute to address the several serious transnational global health challenges and hence provide a possibility to improve peace and stability in the region