PAHO and UWI Launch Postgraduate Health Policy and Health Systems Programmes

21 Apr 2022
Representatives from PAHO and UWI at the launch event.
21 Apr 2022

From September 2022, the University of the West Indies (UWI) will welcome the first cohort for the postgraduate diploma and certificate program in Health Policy and Health Systems, created through a strategic collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

The objective of these new courses launched on Tuesday April 19, is to train persons who seek expertise in creating health policy and organizing health systems.  PAHO provided the funding and lent collaborative expertise, to the development of courses in the novel academic programme. The entity will additionally arrange valuable internship opportunities for some students to gain practical experience in the specialised field.

The postgraduate diploma/certificate programme will become available for enrolment in the upcoming academic year and includes courses in governance, leadership, human resources for health, health economics, healthcare systems, medicines, telehealth and telemedicine, and health promotion.  The blended online and face-to-face curriculum will increase access to prospective students from within and outside the sub region.  Under the programme, students are given the option to complete an academic Certificate or a Diploma, either full-time over one year or part-time over two years.

Conceptualised in 2019, the programme was developed by expert teams led by PAHO’s Human Resources for Health Advisor, Dr Benjamin Puertas, alongside Head of the Public Health Group and Programme Coordinator for the Master of Public Health programme at the UWI Cave Hill Campus, Dr Heather Harewood and the Director of Medical Education, Dr. Azim Majumder.  Over the past two years, the teams worked extensively to identify new courses, revise existing ones, and gather expert knowledge to produce an evidence-informed, state -of-the art postgraduate certificate/ diploma in Health Policy and Health Systems.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Puertas pointed out that there is growing consensus about the need for increased health policy leadership and a health workforce that is prepared to assume these roles.  “The COVID-19 pandemic evidenced the need to strengthen the development of public policy in health to allow national health systems to face this challenge and future emergencies effectively and efficiently. To move in this direction, countries need to have health professionals trained in policy development, leadership, and health systems,” Dr Puertas emphasized.  

Dean Faculty of Medical Sciences, Dr. O Peter Adams, mentioned the faculty’s goal of recruiting and training health care professionals in Medicine as well as Nursing and fields allied to Health. “Professionals who can meet the needs of and improve the health care delivery system for the people they serve and who strive for professional excellence throughout their career in a constantly changing world… Having fulfilled its mandate in producing professionals capable of curative and preventive medicine and medical research, it is now necessary to turning its attention to the offering of training in Health Policy and Health systems. Both the COVID and NCD pandemics have revealed how health systems can be stressed,” the Dean stressed.

PAHO Sub Regional Program Director, Dean Chambliss, pointed out that UWI and PAHO have a history of robust partnerships that aim to strengthen public health systems in the Caribbean. 

“Our strategic collaboration with CARICOM to launch the HRH-Action Task Force… has proven to be a highly effective way to transform evidence and research into policy development and action.  UWI’s involvement in the Caribbean Public Health Law Forum, which targets healthful changes at policy level and involvement in the EU/ CARIFORUM Climate Change and Health Project, has resulted in a fellowship that encourages not only increased awareness, but tangible action related to climate and health.  We are also currently working with UWI’s St Augustine Campus, to significantly expand the lab capacity there to serve as a PAHO Reference Sequencing Laboratory in the COVID-19 Genomic Surveillance Regional Network.  And our relationship with the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Cave Hill, is evidence of our common interest in capacity building and training of human resources for health,” Mr Chambliss said.

“The UWI has published research showing that the effective public health response to COVID-19 in the Caribbean has been anchored relatively strong health systems built up over decades in areas such as laboratory diagnostics, disaster and emergency management, and public health communication, all underpinned with sound science and research to guide evidence-based decision making,” asserted Principal of the UWI Cave Hill Campus, Dr Clive Landis.  “Now more than ever, therefore is the time to strengthen the health care systems and policies to build resilient and effective health care systems in the Caribbean that can deliver on the recognition and declaration of the CARICOM Heads of State in their Nassau Declaration: The health of the region is the wealth of the region,” Dr Landis stated.

For more information on these and other courses please visit the University of the West Indies, Faculty of Medical Sciences at the Cave Hill Campus.