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Research at Center for Global Health

The Research Mission of the University of Illinois Center for Global Health is to improve the health of populations around the world by conducting collaborative, trans-disciplinary research that addresses critical global health threats.  To achieve this, we work to:

  • Establish an infrastructure for identifying and applying for funding opportunities that support global health research
  • Develop collaborative projects with researchers from the six health sciences colleges that focus on global health issues
  • Build on existing research projects to seek additional funding
  • Collaborate with the existing WHO Centers at UIC to create new research initiatives

Capacity Building Heading link

Nearly all of the Center for Global Health’s current and recent projects focus on capacity building. This focus is central to our mission of reducing health inequalities and improving the health of populations and individuals around the world.

What is capacity building?

Capacity building in global health has been defined as:

The development of sustainable skills, organizational structures, resources and commitment to health improvement in health and other sectors, to prolong and multiply health gains many times over.1

It can occur on an individual level, such as training a clinician to develop a specific skill set. It can also occur at a systems level, such as establishing a hospital department to address an unmet need. It can include training individuals to conduct research or increasing an institution’s ability to support research activities. Capacity building can also be directed at community advocates and policymakers.

Capacity building in Ethiopia

The Mela Project in Mek’ele, Ethiopia, partnered with a local university to:

  • Improve the quality of their OB/Gyn training
  • Increase the number of their OB/Gyn trainees
  • Improve the standard of care for women
  • Provide support for research and innovation.

To date, the project trained over 20 practitioners across two institutions. In addition to a number of women’s health projects in Ethiopia, Center for Global Health faculty are involved in Otolaryngology-focused capacity building initiatives in the country. These include providing 13-18 weeks of hands-on ear surgery training to almost 10 ENT graduates and providing almost 30 people with audiometry training, something that did not existent in Ethiopia until 2018.

Capacity building at the Fogarty UIC Global Mental Health And Migration Research and Training Program

Through the Fogarty UIC Global Mental Health And Migration Research and Training Program program, the Center addresses the adverse impact of migration on chronic non-communicable diseases, specifically in the area of mental illness and physical comorbidities.

The program builds research capacity in low and middle-income countries (LMIC) concerning this major global health problem. It focuses on migration in Eastern Europe and Central Asia from two of the world’s highest migrant-sending countries, Kosovo and Tajikistan. These are both Muslim-majority LMICs. The program aims to improve the abilities of policymakers, practitioners, and educators in Kosovo and Tajikistan to deal with migration-associated mental and physical illnesses for their citizens both at home and abroad.

Capacity building in India

Some projects go beyond training community health workers, practitioners, researchers, and policymakers. One faculty project, Heart Rescue India, works with healthcare and community partners in Bangalore to improve access and quality of care for acute cardiovascular disease within underserved populations. They provided a basic program of 10 informational modules to approximately 500 students. Additionally, to over 100 health adjuncts and lay people, they provided:

  • CPR training
  • Training in how to treat, transport, and register potential ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) patients
  • Scooter driving to allow for easier transport of patients through heavily trafficked streets.

The work doesn’t stop with program launch

Center for Global Health faculty also help sustain implemented programs. In addition to developing bone marrow transplant programs in seven LMICs, our faculty hold conferences in the subject area to provide additional learning, training, and networking opportunities for clinicians. To date, this includes 4 conferences in Nepal, each with 80-100 attendees; 2 conferences in India, each with 50 attendees; and 2 conferences in Cuba, each with 70 attendees.

The future of capacity building

The Center for Global Health will continue its capacity building activities in the coming years. Over the next two years, one faculty member’s project in Senegal will train:

  • 140 midwives in cervical cancer screening
  • 42 administrators in cervical cancer prevention oversight and quality assurance
  • 110 community health workers in how to best educate others about cervical cancer.

Beginning in summer 2019, another faculty member will train approximately 50 practitioners in St. Kitts and Nevis in disaster risk management with the long-term goal of creating a model for Community Engagement in Disaster Risk Reduction training that can be employed for Caribbean island nations.

1 Hawe P, Noort M, King L, Jordens C. Multiplying health gains: the critical role of capacity-building within public health programs. Health Policy. 1997;39:29-42.