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Getting to know….The Global Health Academy

5 April 2018


The Global Health Academy (GHA) is a vibrant, evidence led academic community and cross-disciplinary structure housed in the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.   It was formed in 2009 with a purpose to support the global health work at the University of Edinburgh. The Academy is a centre for partnership working where local partners are supported to embed and integrate knowledge into action, and to share across countries and communities.

The Academy is shaped by the vision now captured in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the wider Planetary Health agenda which emphasises the absolute interconnection of all life – human, animal, and the natural world and the urgency to take action.   As students staff and alumni of the University we are conscious that while huge gains have been made in human health and development over the last century, many from the science, innovation and business sectors supported by excellent University research across the globe, they have been at the expense of our planet, and our current ecological footprint is irreparably altering our climate, destroying land, forests, rivers, oceans, and the ecosystems they maintain.  These challenges are interconnected and require urgent, creative and increasingly interdisciplinary solutions.

As one of five Global Academies the Global Health Academy works in partnership with the Global Development Academy, Global Environment & Society Academy, Global Justice Academy and Global Academy for Agriculture and Food Security to be more responsive to these intractable, global challenges facing humanity.

Our Mission:

The GHA’s mission to support the creation, curation and implementation of global health knowledge across a diverse global community including practitioners, trainers, researchers, policy makers, business, local community and international agencies.  With a specific focus on the  health issues affecting the greatest number of people worldwide –these people typically live in low and middle income countries (LMIC) the Academy encourages  interdisciplinary leadership in learning research and in communities of practice.

The GHA is built upon three value commitments

  • The equality of humanity.
  • Collective, collaborative effort.
  • Listening, curiosity and creativity.


The Learning Hub

The Academy has a vibrant Learning Hub for students studying and/or engaged with global health issues.  It supports 14 interdisciplinary online Masters programmes tailored to the learning needs, space and time of low and middle income country students.

Currently there are 673 students registered on our programmes. And 1792 graduates of the online programmes from the Global South.

The Academy also supports a range of CPD short courses for professionals and leads an annual Commonwealth Commission Summer School which is co-hosted and delivered with our partner universities in Rwanda and Uganda. The Summer Schools have been attended by 238 students from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean over the last 9 years.

Global Health research happens in every part of the university and is drawn together through the virtual structure of the Academy.  Seven broad themes outline the breadth and depth of the research – these include

  1. One Health /Planetary Health… To note: In May 29-1st the Planetary Health Conference will be hosted by the GHA in Edinburgh.
  2. Care Pathways and Systems such as Family Medicine, Palliative care alongside mental health and wellbeing
  3. Disease and illness specific research programmes including Non Communicable diseases, Infectious and Emerging Diseases
  4. Data, Evidence and Impact
  5. Technical innovation E and M health
  6. Life stages including maternal and child health, Ageing and Dementia
  7. Health Equality and Equity including global health governance.
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Learning and Practice: Family Medicine programme

Across the world the discipline of Family Medicine is gaining prominence as a vehicle for promoting effective primary health care.

The World Health Assembly has endorsed Family Medicine as the only way to effectively ensure no one is left behind as countries aim towards the ambition of Universal Health Coverage.

The Masters programme is run in association with CMC Vellore one of India’s most significant medical training colleges and with ICMDA ( the International Medical Christian and Dental Association which has bubs in over 70 countries and which supports at national level the health sectors of a number of low income countries through faith based hospital and community health provision)  The Masters   seeks to empower doctors to become specialist generalists, focused on serving in rural and remote areas and in areas of poverty.  The training programme aims to produce doctors who resolve more and refer less, whose presence will improve the quality of patient care by providing continuity and an understanding of the family and community context

The Family Medicine Online Masters is more than just a degree.  Alongside the online teaching there are a series of activities that contribute to improved health at the Family Level.  These include programmes such as our Palliative care Integration programme and a leadership training programme funded by THET to enable health workers to celebrate their work of building palliative care approaches, services and systems into the hospitals and clinics where they work in Uganda and Rwanda.

Other primary care initiatives include a new ehealth records system at Nkhoma Hospital Malawi which connects clinics to the main hospital to improve care for women and children.

At Nkhoma hospital  the GHA is also leading a major Cervical Cancer Screening programme where Scottish and Malawian nurses, clinical officers and doctors, engineers, and technicians are working with patients, community  and faith leaders to scale up a services for early detection and treatment of cervical cancer through a process  of Cold Coagulation, spearheaded in Scotland.