Young Global Health Program Designed to Produce Real Outcomes

Program Highlight: The Ghana-Michigan Collaborative Health Alliance for Reshaping Training, Education & Research (CHARTER), funded with a two-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

CHARTER Focus: strengthen human resource information systems, enhance and expand health professional and research training, and improve capacity to evaluate the impact of selective human resource policies on the performance, retention and satisfaction of health workers throughout the country.

CHARTER Challenge: design an evidence-based roadmap for academic government collaborative interventions that will strengthen the training and deployment of human resources for health in Ghana.

Although many of the CUGH’s 49 member institutions have long offered courses in global health and been engaged in partnerships with universities in developing countries, formal, institutionalized programs in global health are relatively new. One example of this is the University of Michigan’s Center for Global Health.

“The dream being realized is that this young program will have real outcomes to improve health of populations,” says Sofia Merajver, MD, PhD, Professor of Internal Medicine who is the director of the Center. “My early experiences in global cancer research and education in Africa and the Middle East and Latin America taught me that the outcomes of global health care depend on a constellation of variables, but access and resource-appropriate implementation science are crucial to achieving equity.”

In fact, a mission of the University of Michigan Center for Global Health (UM CGH) is to use multidisciplinary science in the service to global health equity, Another defining characteristic of the Center is engagement. The affiliated faculty attempt to address global environmental issues, global warming, infectious and chronic disease, health systems strengthening and social determinants of health, all with a multi-disciplinary approach, and with a view to establishing projects on the ground that will evolve to serve long-term commitments in equal partnerships.

“Since the inception of the Center for Global Health two years ago, there has been tremendous interest from students,” says Dr. Merajver. “The Center works to synergize projects that have a broad base of disciplines involved, drawing faculty and students from all corners of the University. We currently have over 200 faculty and student associates and are growing every week. Moving forward we want to expand UM CGH engagements with other CUGH members and to help formulate CUGH strategies around our foci areas.”

The Center has four strategic objectives: 1) Catalyze campus and national discussion on the evidence base for improving global health; 2) Promote innovative and interdisciplinary global health research and action; 3) Nurture and develop new scientists focused on global health research and action; and, 4) Build capacity for research for health in the Global South.

Four platforms of engagement based on these objectives have been developed, creating strong relationships with University of Michigan partners around the world:

  • In the Andean region of Latin America (Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia), the Center concentrates on mental health, non-communicable disease and maternal and child health;
  • In China, the Center focuses on mental health and environmental health issues;
  • The Center works in four locations in India on chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, environmental health and the health effects of climate change;
  • In Ghana, the Center expands on the University’s long-standing role in maternal health supporting programs in health systems strengthening, emergency medicine, environmental health, and cancer.

An example of building capacity for research for health in the Global South is the Ghana-Michigan Collaborative Health Alliance for Reshaping Training, Education & Research (CHARTER) project. For more than 20 years, the University of Michigan has worked with institutions in Ghana on a post-graduate training program in Obstetrics-Gynecology, which has led to the retention of 60 trained specialists in country. Building on the good will of this long-term collaboration, UM worked with the Ghanaian Ministry of Health (MOH), the University of Ghana (UG), and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to submit a successful two-year learning grant to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a collaborative program to work to strengthen human resource information systems, enhance and expand health professional and research training, and improve capacity to evaluate the impact of selective human resource policies on the performance, retention and satisfaction of health workers throughout the country. The Gates Foundation awarded a $2.9 million grant in November 2008 for the CHARTER project, the Center’s first grant.

“The CHARTER program is designed to be an evidence-based roadmap for academic and governmental collaborative interventions that will strengthen the training and deployment of human resources for health in Ghana,” says Rani Kotha, JD, MPH, Executive Director of the Center for Global Health and CHARTER co-investigator. Activities will focus on four areas of work: 1) Develop a charter for collaboration; 2) Strengthen data for human resource planning; 3) Strengthen education and training; and, 4) Strengthen health-related research and research training. If you are interested in learning more about the CHARTER program or working in Ghana, contact Rani Kotha, at rkotha@umich.edu.

In October 2010, as a follow up to the CHARTER program, researchers at the UM School of Public Health and Medical School received a grant for the Ghana-Michigan Post-doctoral And Research Training NEtwoRk (PARTNER). Funded by Fogarty International, PARTNER was established to strengthen interdisciplinary research capacity in Ghana to address global health challenges faced by low-and middle-income countries.

More Information: Center for Global Health at the University of Michigan »

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