When a new pandemic threat like this year's Ebola outbreak emerges, the importance of preventing and limiting disease spread becomes apparent. Well-trained global health professionals play a key role in preventing and responding to emerging zoonotic disease.
Under a new five-year award of up to $50 million, the University of Minnesota and Tufts University will be part of an international partnership of universities to strengthen global workforce development against emerging pandemic threats.
Called One Health Workforce (OHW), the work is part of a new U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Emerging Pandemic Threats 2 program, focusing on disease surveillance, training and outbreak response.
The global workforce development program will focus on the One Health Central and Eastern Africa Network and South East Asia One Health University Network. Their networks are supported by a partnership with the University of Minnesota and Tufts University in Massachusetts.
Primary leads of the partners are William Bazeyo of Makerere University in Uganda, Noor Hassim of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Saul Tzipori of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and David Chapman of the University of Minnesota.
The interdisciplinary Tufts University team, including faculty from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and Tufts School of Medicine, will be led by Tzipori as well as Felicia Nutter and Hellen Amuguni from the Cummings school. They will bring expertise in global infectious disease of humans and animals, environmental health, training in higher health education and research methodologies and internet technology.
Faculty from the University of Minnesota's programs in medicine, nursing, public health, education and development, environmental health and veterinary medicine will collaborate in the work, under the leadership of Katey Pelican, John Deen and David Chapman.
The combined expertise from both universities will reflect "one health" — the intertwined health of animals, humans and the environment, the announcement said.
"These global partnerships will create a new generation of skilled health workers needed to battle infectious disease threats like Ebola in the world's most vulnerable communities," Pelican said. "We're helping our colleagues be ready to respond with sustainable models that maintain change long into the future."
In central and eastern Africa, 14 public health and veterinary medicine institutions from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda form the One Health Central and Eastern Africa Network. The South East Asia One Health University Network includes 14 faculty members from 10 universities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
These university networks, alongside the University of Minnesota and Tufts University, will partner with in-country government ministries to define the one health workforce and determine the competencies, knowledge and skills required in practice and in undergraduate and graduate education.
These capacity building activities will be anchored in local institutions including universities to support long-term sustainability.
USAID manages the Emerging Pandemic Threats 2 program with technical collaboration from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Food & Agricultural Organization.