Print version ISSN 0042-9686
Bull World Health Organ vol.85 n.12 Genebra Dec. 2007
ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION
BRAC Centre, 75 Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh
The base paper by Petrakova and Sadana is a thought- provoking call for innovation and action in public health education. The approach used by the BRAC University James P Grant School of Public Health (BSPH) in Bangladesh addresses many of these issues.
To be relevant to the needs of society, we envision our graduates to:
- be committed to the health needs of the global South;
- be equipped to deal with problems faced by disadvantaged sections of the society;
- be aware of the interplay and importance of factors such as poverty, education, women's status, environment and power relations within and beyond family, as they affect health and health care;
- appreciate that health is "not merely the absence of disease, but a state of complete physical, mental and social well being";
- be life-long, problem-based learners and critical interdisciplinary thinkers;
- be promoters and practitioners of both the science and art of public health; and
- be future leaders in public health practice, research and teaching.
Set up in 2005, two batches of 51 participants from more than 12 countries have now graduated from BRAC through its master of public health (MPH) programme, all of whom are now back in their own countries and have taken up responsibilities in government, donor agencies, media and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Some have started doctoral-level studies.
We are building research capacity in the BRAC school. We have initiated collaborative research with other existing research groups in the country, such as BRAC's Research and Evaluation Division and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR). From the research carried out at the school the students learn issues and challenges in global health. The students choose a topic from among the many health interventions being implemented in Bangladesh for their final end-of-the course thesis.
Starting with a small nucleus recruited from within the BRAC organization, the faculty is now growing through recruiting from among the school's own graduates. With the school becoming known, there is also some interest among non-resident Bangladeshis to return. To overcome staff shortage and to bring diversity, we have adjunct faculty from partner institutions who also train our faculty in good teaching practices.
Curriculum development is an ongoing process and we constantly review it for further improvement and relevance.
The BRAC school promotes a field- and problem-based experiential learning approach. Village exposure is the foundation of the programme. The students spend half of their 12 months in a village campus allowing continuous interactions with villagers as well as the local health systems. International students are paired with their local counterparts to overcome the language barrier.
Discovering and providing knowledge is meaningless unless it is put into practice to protect and save people from unnecessary disease burden. For this to happen, a close interaction with policy-makers and implementers of interventions is necessary. The school links with NGOs, government and international organizations, as they recruit many of the graduates who find a ready constituency to practice what they have learned.