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IHS Guidelines for Developing Good Colleges of Public Health.

These guidelines have been developed to facilitate development of good colleges of public health (CPH) in India. A good college of public health would groom skills to enable a community effectively deal with its public health problems. Public health is an applied science seeking to enhance a public good, namely people's health. The institution should be a consortium of multiple disciplines, working towards improvement of public health. It should foster interdisciplinary work in the area of public health. Activities of the institute would encompass research, education, and public service.

These guidelines lead to the Statute for Recognition of Colleges of Public Health and Affiliation of International Masters in Public Health (MPH) courses developed by the NTR University of Health Sciences (UHS), Vijayawada. The UHS statute was approved by the Government of Andhra Pradesh, and received assent of the Chancellor in 2008 (Health Medical & Family Welfare Department GOMs No.67 dated 7th March 2008).

1. Lead-up to the Guidelines for Development of Colleges of Public Health:

Aiming to develop a long term, master’s-level program in public health, the IHS designed and implemented a 2-year ‘Advanced Studies in Public Health (APH)’ training program. The program was experimental in nature, to test feasibility of a 2-year master’s level course adopting practices in world-class institutions such as the Harvard School of Public Health. The program aims to create deeply committed public health professionals, well equipped with essential public health competencies in such areas as health care management, policy analysis and health systems research.

A curriculum promoting an interdisciplinary and comprehensive approach to issues related to public health was developed. The program was designed to provide multiple opportunities for students to practice public health skills and foster critical thinking about issues addressed by them. The program required four semesters of full-time course work and two inter semester field placements. One batch of four students drawn from a broad range of disciplines (medical, and social sciences) and from different parts of the country (Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, and Orissa) were trained by the Institute. The experimental APH program, started in January, 2003 and the four students, passed out in Jan 2005. The purpose of this experiment was to generate experience for development of schools of public health in India, and higher education programs in public health. Experiences gained from this program has been documented by Dr. CK George, who was the course director and published by the Institute (Report No.39 of 2006).

Although, the course was not affiliated to any university, the Institute liaised with the Dr. N.T. Ramarao (NTR) University of Health Sciences (UHS) regarding the APH program. The Institute's objective was, to demonstrate to the UHS, various innovative features of the program so as to instill a level of comfort among the University authorities for eventual affiliation of an International Master’s Program in Public Health. During this period, the Institute received visitors from the University of Iowa and exchanged visits to Iowa. This interaction provided an opportunity to conceptualize about twinning programs. In the meanwhile, the UHS decided, in principle, to affiliate the Master’s Program in Public Health and asked the IHS to propose detailed inputs for preparation of UHS Statute. An extensive study of available policies and guidelines both within India and abroad, and relevant literature about quality assurance of higher educational programs, and schools of public health was undertaken by the Institute to inform the preparation of the UHS Statute. In addition, these guidelines have been developed to facilitate development of good colleges of public health in India. The IHS guidelines for development of colleges of public health and Masters Program in Public Health (IHS Report No. 40 of 2006) is result of this exercise.

Highlights of the IHS Guidelines for Development of Colleges of Public Health: