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Mac symposium strengthens international co-operation in higher education

Global Health symposium attendees gather at McMaster

Delegates from eight countries attend meetings on global health at McMaster.

October 29, 2018

Last week, delegates from eight countries attended meetings on global health at McMaster University to strengthen international co-operation in higher education. 

Countries involved included the Netherlands, India, Thailand, Sudan, Norway, Colombia, South Africa, and Japan, and state representatives included the consul general of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Norwegian honorary consul general. Additional attendees during the week included members of the international advisory board of the Master of Science in Global Health program, and representatives from the program's six partner institutions: Maastricht University in the Netherlands, Manipal Academy of Higher Education in India, Thammasat University in Thailand, University of South-Eastern Norway (USN) in Norway, Universidad del Rosario in Colombia, and Ahfad University for Women in Sudan.

"We are moving closer to a multinational transdisciplinary educational model in higher education," said Andrea Baumann, chair of the symposium and associate vice-president, global health for the Faculty of Health Sciences. She is director of the global health graduate program, designed to allow students to move across specialties and apply a deep understanding of the complexities of global health.

Two meetings were open to the public. On Oct. 22, Govindakarnavar Arunkumar of the Manipal Centre for Virus Research in India gave a Global Health Speaker Series lecture on 'Nipah Virus: An Emerging Pandemic'. His presentation shed light on detection and response to India's third Nipah outbreak in May 2018. The Kerala government and the Manipal Centre for Virus Research, which Arunkumar set up and currently leads, were fast to act, with swift laboratory confirmation and a robust public health plan.

On Oct. 24, McMaster, in partnership with USN, hosted a symposium on global health issues specific to Arctic communities in Canada and Norway. The session, called 'Global transition within local communities, small places, big changes', focused on how the populations in Canadian and Norwegian regions face similar threats to their natural resources, their health, and their rights. Norwegian honorary consul general Marianne Koritzinsky opened the symposium, referencing the Norwegian government's ten year strategic plan and the ways in which the plan aligns with the MSc Global Health program, in terms of its focus on improving health, changing demographics, and issues including climate change, food security, and social challenges.

The symposium marked three years of McMaster's partnership with USN. In 2015, the two institutions were jointly awarded four-year funding from the High North Fund, administered by the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU). The universities’ ongoing collaboration has resulted in the joint course, as well as exchange and research opportunities for students and faculty.