Global health issues affect us all; an individual living in New Brunswick, NJ, has many of the same health and wellness concerns as an individual living in Mumbai, India. From new medical technology to natural disasters to emerging diseases and epidemics, global health challenges require interdisciplinary solutions.
Rutgers University has been an active leader in developing impactful health solutions through interdisciplinary research and collaboration with colleagues at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) for years. With the formation of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences on July 1, 2013, Rutgers has exponentially enhanced its resources and expertise to address these issues, combining clinical skills with expertise in the social, economic, and political context in which we live and experience health challenges. RBHS is committed to providing its students with a global perspective in medicine. The schools and units of RBHS are home to dynamic researchers studying problems around the world such as such as tuberculosis, women’s healthSouth Asian health. Many of the academic programs offered through RBHS incorporate international components, and there are many centers and institutes that address major global health and medical issues, such as the AIDS Education and Training Center National Resource Center, Global Tuberculosis Institute, and the Stanley S. Bergen Center for Multicultural Education, Research, and Practice. The efforts of the university community in various fields across all three campuses will help to ensure that our local and global communities have a healthier future, engage the international community in healthcare solutions, and create new and better ways to provide health care.
Rutgers faculty are collaborating with communities around the world to learn, understand, and improve health outcomes in China, Mexico, Botswana, Brazil, Liberia, and many other countries. Through research, educational programs, study abroad opportunities, community service programs, and more, the Rutgers community is enriching our understanding of global heath challenges and developing impactful solutions to critical health concerns facing the world today.
In fall 2013, Rutgers through the Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs launched the Global Health! Biennial Theme, a series of events held around the university designed to create a framework around global health topics and concerns. While the theme supports various programming under the umbrella of global health, the first year of the Global Health! theme focuses on three subthemes: Social & Economic Justice; Environment, Science & Innovation; and Systems, Delivery & Policy. These themes represent important aspects of health and wellness around the world, as well as areas in which Rutgers faculty, staff, and students are actively engaged.
Social and economic justice focuses on the health disparities that arise as a result of gender, age, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Rutgers faculty are working to understand the social and economic determinants of health and its impact on individual health and wellness. Topics from the role of migration and its effects on health to the impact of ethnic differences on health outcomes to health economics are being explored by the Rutgers community. University units like the Institute for Women’s Leadership are exploring women’s health and the social, economic, political, environmental, and biological forces that shape it.
Analyzing the roles that the environment, science, and innovation play in health outcomes has received attention from researchers in recent years as a result of climate change, intensified occurrences of the extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy, advanced scientific discoveries in wide range of fields (i.e. biotechnology, molecular biosciences, cancer treatment, etc.), and innovative new treatments for diseases that affect individuals around the world such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Whether it is developing environmental health policy, analyzing the effects of climate change on health, or building innovative technologies that can improve individual health, Rutgers faculty, staff, and students are producing cutting edge research to enhance the health and wellness of individuals and communities around the world.
Students are the forefront of new solutions, approaches, and forms of engagement. For example, Water Brigades at Rutgers University is a student-led global health and sustainable development organization. Student volunteers gain knowledge and first-hand experience by visiting insufficient water systems in Honduras and Panama and then learning how to meet specific needs and reaching these goals. The local communities benefit enormously by having clean water and by learning new techniques for proper hygiene and personal care.
The award-winning Rutgers University Student Chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA (EWB-USA) supports community-driven development programs worldwide by collaborating with local partners to design sustainable engineering projects. Communication with each community lasts for a minimum of five years in order to ensure continuity and sustainable improvements in the quality of life. Students have the opportunity to participate in several international projects in countries such as Guatemala and Kenya. The Rutgers student chapter was recognized as the 2011 Premier Student Chapter.
Ensuring our healthcare institutions support a high quality workforce and are able to efficiently and effectively provide care to patients through prevention, policy, development, and improved systems is a critical aspect of health and wellness and an area in which the Rutgers community has actively worked to improve through the university’s mission of research, teaching, and service. For example, the Department of Preventative Medicine and Community Health at the New Jersey Medical School provides training, conducts research and offers services to the New Jersey Medical School community including students, staff, faculty, patients, and to communities of Newark and beyond to facilitate real solutions to important health problems. In addition to developing future healthcare leaders in the Rutgers College of Nursing and the School of Nursing-Camden, faculty, staff, and students, are tackling such concerns as nursing shortages in Haiti; health policy in response to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity in the United States and Brazil as well as India and China; they provide technical assistance to community-based organizations to help prevent the spread of HIV.