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Bringing public health education to a changing China

Yale Medicine Magazine, 1998 - Summer


The explosive growth of the economy of the People's Republic of China brings with it many benefits–and a set of daunting new public health challenges. Already closely allied with efforts to improve public health education in China, Yale faculty and student efforts will expand significantly as a result of a five-year, $400,000 grant from The Procter & Gamble Co. The funds will support a collaboration between the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health and Beijing's 10-year-old Union School of Public Health, the nation's first graduate-level public health training program. The main focus of the collaboration will be on strengthening the Union School curriculum in public health law, health economics, environmental health, smoking control and other areas. The grant will also fund summer internships in China for Yale students in public health.

Those students will face a broad range of problems. “Fundamental political and economic changes,” says Michael H. Merson, M.D., dean of public health and director of the Yale-Union collaboration, “are presenting China with not only many health risks associated with developing nations–such as infectious and parasitic diseases–but also rising rates of diseases associated with lifestyle changes, including cancer, heart disease and sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS. In addition, 70 percent of adult men in China smoke, creating a huge need for anti-smoking campaigns organized by public health workers.”

Yale first collaborated with Union School in 1996 when University faculty helped develop a public health law curriculum. Part of the new collaboration will involve refining that curriculum and disseminating it to faculties at some 30 other public health schools in China. Procter & Gamble's chairman and chief executive officer, John E. Pepper, is a member of the Yale Corporation, the governing board of the University.