Capacity Building at the Center for Global Health

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

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 skillset, or a systems level, such as establishing a hospital department to addresses a previously 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.

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, and 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.A Sample of Our Capacity Building Activities 

The Center for Global Health conducts the Fogarty UIC Global Mental Health and Migration Research & Training Program. This program addresses the adverse impact of migration on chronic non-communicable diseases (NCD), specifically in the area of mental illness and physical comorbidities. It 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, both Muslim majority LMICs. It 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.

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 (CVD) within underserved populations. They provided a basic program of 10 informational modules to approximately 500 students as part of the program. In addition, they provided over 100 health adjuncts and lay people with CPR training; training in how to treat, transport, and register potential ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) patients; and scooter driving to allow for easier transport of patients through heavily trafficked streets.

Center for Global Health faculty also help sustain implemented programs. In addition to developing bone marrow transplant (BMT) 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 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, and 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 (DRR) training that can be employed for Caribbean island nations.

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.