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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

New Partnerships for Public Health between UIC, Cuban University

“We are as eager to share our knowledge with them as they are with us,” says Dean Paul Brandt-Rauf, UIC School of Public Health. The UIC School of Public Health and Escuela Nacional de Salud Pública (ENSAP), Cuba’s national school of public health in Havana, signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a partnership between the two schools that will include the exchange of students and faculty, as well as joint research endeavors and collaborative opportunities.

Cuba MOU signing
[Photo: UIC SPH Dean Paul Brandt-Rauf (right), is joined by Dr. Pastor Castell-Florit Serrate, Director of ENSAP; Professor Tania Aguilar Guerra, Vicdirectora General of ENSAP; and Dr. Ralph Rivera Gutierrez, Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Puerto Rico.]

“It started when I met the dean of the Cuban school of public health at a meeting in Washington, DC, last year and talked to him about the School’s Global Health Program,” said Dean Brandt-Rauf. “He invited me to come down to talk more about how we could work together in anticipation of the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.”

Dean Brandt-Rauf and Dr. Peter Orris, professor of environmental and occupational health sciences, traveled to Cuba in Spring 2015 to sign the memorandum of understanding. They met with Dr. Pastor Castell-Florit Serrate, Director of ENSAP; Professor Tania Aguilar Guerra, Vicedirectora General of ENSAP; and Dr. Ralph Rivera Gutierrez, Dean of the School of Public Health, University of Puerto Rico.

Cuban public health officials visited UIC in November for a lecture, reception and further discussion about collaboration. Visitors included Dr. Pedro Más Bermejo, director of Pedro Kourí Tropical Medicine Institute and professor of epidemiology at the National School of Public Health of Cuba; and Dr. Alcides Ochoa Alonso, president of the Cuban Society of Public Health.

Dean Brandt-Rauf said students in the Global Health Program will travel to Cuba in summer 2016 to participate in public health projects as a first step in building collaborative scholarly activities. “We have programs and expertise in areas that Cuba has determined are among their public health priorities, such as maternal and child health, and we are as eager to share our knowledge with them as they are with us,” he said.

Dean Brandt-Rauf also noted that both schools have a lot to learn from each other in this collaboration. “For example, Cuba spends a fraction of what we do in the U.S. and yet they achieve better health outcomes. As we move into a health care system based on value (rather than volume) their experience could be quite informative as to where the best returns on investment lie.” The School of Public Health looks forward to building a robust academic program and partnership with their Cuban colleagues.