New Certificate in Global Health at School of Public Health

Public health students in Gambia, West Africa
Drexel public health students are engaged in community-based public health projects in Gambia, West Africa.

The Drexel University School of Public Health has announced a new global health certificate program starting in September 2012.

The certificate program, which is part of the school’s new Global Health Initiative, is designed for current students and working professionals looking to acquire additional skills or to have a greater impact on improving the health of others on a global scale.

“Public health issues increasingly transcend the perspectives and concerns of individual nations and transcend geographic boundaries,” said Dr. Shannon Márquez, an associate professor and the director of the Global Health Initiative at the School of Public Health. Issues that were once addressed only as local public health issues are increasingly identified as concerns that could affect the health of communities around the world, she said. “There is a growing need for a better trained workforce that will have the knowledge and skills to collaborate and partner to strengthen health systems and address pressing public health problems of such magnitude that they have a global political and economic impact.”

The curriculum for the global health certificate uniquely blends online courses, seminars and international field experiences. The program is designed to complement the coursework of current public health students, while also accommodating the schedules of working professionals.

“The program prepares students and practitioners to work in changing environments and with diverse populations,” said Márquez.  “The global health certificate also provides a comprehensive understanding of global conditions, needs and solutions that cross borders in both developing and industrialized countries and regions.”

The new Drexel SPH global health initiative allows students to gain hands-on experience working with global populations in international field placements. For example, this summer, five students from the School of Public Health are working in conjunction with the University’s weServe program at a hospital in Gambia in West Africa, collaborating on community-based public health projects in the areas of HIV/AIDS prevention and education, maternal and child health and chronic disease management. The five students, Greg Bond, Lauren Forbes, Idris Robinson, Tomi Seriki and Tosin Seriki, are all pursuing master’s degrees in public health and blogging about their experiences in Gambia. Their blog posts and other global travel updates from the School of Public Health are available at the School’s Global Travel Blog.

Márquez established the Global Health Initiative when she joined the School of Public Health earlier this year. The initiative was created to provide opportunities for students to gain rich and meaningful experiences working on health issues that transcend national boundaries or that may be influenced by circumstances or experiences in other countries.

The School of Public Health’s global health programs are aligned with the nationally-endorsed educational model of the Association of Schools of Public Health’s Global Health Competency Model.

Márquez is an accomplished educator, researcher, administrator, environmental health scientist and “public health engineer,” who has garnered local, national and international recognition for research and practice in the field of global environmental health and safe water systems. She has led research on sustainable solutions to improve agricultural health, the environmental burden of disease and to address global health disparities and environmental justice in developing countries of Africa. She has also worked in Asia and Latin America and in underserved communities in the United States.

Márquez holds a Ph.D. in environmental sciences and engineering from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, a master’s degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M University, and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Prairie View A&M University.