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From New Hampshire to Tanzania

Global Health Initiative launched

Officials from Dartmouth and Muhimbili University College of Health and Sciences (MUCHS) in Tanzania signed a memorandum of undertstanding last month that officially launched a multifaceted Gobal Health Initiative (GHI).

"I see this as a model for the future," said Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz, the Norman E. McCulloch Jr. Director of Dartmouth's John Sloan Dickey Center. "So many 21st century problems are interdisciplinary in nature. By bringing all of Dartmouth's strengths to bear on this project, I believe we are establishing a model of broad-based cooperation that can and will be successfully replicated."

The Nov. 28 signing of the Global Health Initiative
The Nov. 28 signing of the Global Health Initiative Memoradum of Understanding between Dartmouth and Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences in Tanzania. Left to right: Ford von Reyn, Head of Infectious Diseases at Dartmouth Medical School (DMS); Stephen Spielberg, Dean of DMS; Barry Scherr, Provost; Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz, the Norman E. McCulloch Jr. Director of Dartmouth's John Sloan Dickey Center; and Joseph Helble, Dean of the Thayer School of Engineering.

The GHI is led by the Dickey Center as well as by Stephen Spielberg, Dean of Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) and various faculty members from the medical school. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Tuck school and the Thayer school are also actively involved with the effort. Objectives include creating an extended global health program in Tanzania, engaging campus and community members in a discussion of global health issues and a curricular component that will include developing new courses for undergraduates in global health.

"The GHI emphasizes Dartmouth's strengths in internationalism and public service, as well as our expertise in dealing with issues related to community health," said Provost Barry Scherr. "The institution-wide involvement in this program, including the participation of undergraduate and graduate students, a wide range of faculty members and the unique expertise of the Dickey Center, makes this a particularly compelling opportunity. Our leadership in this endeavor not only supports the academic mission of the College, it engages us in an effort that will have lasting benefit to society."

The GHI is a multidisciplinary program that builds on the College's ongoing DARDAR (Dartmouth College/University of Dar es Salaam) project. Conducted by Ford von Reyn, DMS Head of Infectious Diseases with Kisali Palangyo, Principal of MUCHS, the initiatives comprising DARDAR include a clinic for children with HIV/AIDS, a trial of a vaccine for tuberculosis associated with HIV/AIDS and a five-year Fogarty Foundation training grant for researchers in Tanzania.

The strong relationship already established with MUCHS was a leading factor in selecting Tanzania as the site for GHI projects. In addition to strong institutional contacts and a stable political environment, Spielberg said, "Tanzania offers our students and faculty an opportunity to learn in a setting that is a microcosm for the challenges currently faced in global health. There are many diseases there including AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria that take a high human toll. By working with this population we hope to work across disciplines to create novel, innovative approaches to addressing critical international health needs."

Tuck and Thayer students, for example, are working to determine the feasibility of establishing a pharmaceutical industry there that will serve Tanzania and East Africa.

According to Yalowitz, the GHI will also continue to raise awareness of global health issues at Dartmouth through public events, including a lecture series and an ongoing symposium on global bioethics cosponsored by the Dickey Center, the Ethics Institute and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "The Dickey Center has also sponsored a new undergraduate group called the Dartmouth Coalition for Global Health," he said. "Through this dynamic, new group we are supporting students as they learn about and respond to the issues and challenges of global health."

The GHI will also have an impact on Dartmouth's curriculum. The GHI Faculty Steering Committee is developing new courses for undergraduates that deal with global health. "There is also a desire to have an African language taught on campus," said Yalowitz. "We are working with the University in Dar es Salaam to bring an instructor to Dartmouth who can provide Kiswahili language instruction." Additional curricular exchanges are being explored in fields including environmental sciences/ecology, geography/land management, history, social policy and government.

By JOEL AALBERTS

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Last Updated: 12/17/08