Left to right, Hiten Chawla, senior group manager, international marketing, Medtronic; Sarah Branstrator, associate director of institutional partnerships, HSPH Office for External Relations; Herb Riband, vice president, external affairs, Medtronic International; Wendy Bennett, consultant, Medtronic; Ian Lapp, associate dean for strategic educational initiatives, HSPH

Left to right, Hiten Chawla, senior group manager, international marketing, Medtronic; Sarah Branstrator, associate director of institutional partnerships, HSPH Office for External Relations; Herb Riband, vice president, external affairs, Medtronic International; Wendy Bennett, consultant, Medtronic; Ian Lapp, associate dean for strategic educational initiatives, HSPH

Medtronic grant supports global health education overhaul

Winter 2012 ]

A new grant from the Medtronic Foundation will help support an ambitious effort by Harvard School of Public Health and several international partner institutions to transform health education for public health leaders, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals around the globe.

The project aims to create new curricula for up-and-coming health professionals at a time when chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer are on the rise. Technology will play a key role; the Internet will be used to disseminate information about best practices in health education as well as workable solutions to health problems. A portal will serve as a clearinghouse for information, a virtual gathering place for faculty and students, and a platform for virtual meetings, workshops, and focus groups.

“Global health is at a crossroads, and education is critical to training the next generation of leaders to meet these challenges,” said Ian Lapp, HSPH associate dean for strategic educational initiatives. “We greatly appreciate the Medtronic Foundation for being the first to support this effort.”

The two-year, $500,000 grant to fund HSPH’s “Teaching to Transform Global Health” initiative comes from the Medtronic Foundation, part of then Minnesota-based medical technology company Medtronic. Through the initiative, experts from HSPH and its partner institutions will develop a competency framework that will inform global health education at the School and help health educators worldwide develop new curricula at their institutions.

Heather Page, director of the Medtronic Foundation, says the company chose to fund HSPH’s “Teaching to Transform” initiative because “it connects public health concerns with medical education. This is crucial if we are going to provide health care for ‘the bottom billion’”—those who live in the world’s poorest nations. The impetus for the initiative stems from a critique of health professional education outlined in a 2010 Lancet report by HSPH Dean Julio Frenk and Lincoln Chen of the China Medical Board.

The Medtronic Foundation is also renewing its support for another HSPH initiative: the China Initiative Senior Executive Education Training Program, which since 2005 has offered four-week programs to help Chinese health policymakers and senior health executives develop strategic vision, technical knowledge, political skills, and an ethical orientation toward formulating and implementing health policy. Medtronic, which has funded the initiative annually since 2006, is now providing another $750,000 for three years.

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