WCM-Q research: Pandemic Shows Global Need to Take Public Health Seriously

Press release
Published June 9th, 2021 - 08:40 GMT
WCM-Q research: Pandemic Shows Global Need to Take Public Health Seriously
Research published by the Institute for Population Health (IPH) at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar says the key lesson to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is a global need to take public health more seriously.
Highlights
The paper, titled ‘The single most important lesson from COVID-19 – It is time to take public health seriously,’

Research published by the Institute for Population Health (IPH) at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) says that the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates an urgent need to take public health far more seriously at both national and international levels.

The research states that in almost all countries around the world there has been inadequate investment in public health and prevention programs, very little public health training in medical education, and chronic underinvestment in public health research. Indeed, in 2017 the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries invested only 2.8 percent of their total health expenditure in public health, according to the research.

The paper, titled ‘The single most important lesson from COVID-19 – It is time to take public health seriously,’ demonstrates that investment in preventive care in high-income nations has stagnated in recent decades, despite the staggering returns of public health interventions in terms of improved life expectancy, reduced infant mortality, improved quality of life, and value for money.

The research, published in the Journal of Global Health, also notes the ‘glaring lack of global consensus’ on how to implement basic health measures to contain the pandemic, a notable example being lives lost in nursing care home populations, which should have been prioritized at the onset, but were not. The authors of the study are Dr. Ravinder Mamtani, Vice Dean for Student Affairs-Admissions, Population Health, and Lifestyle Medicine; Dr. Sohaila Cheema, Assistant Dean for the IPH; Dr. Sathya Doraiswamy, Assistant Director of the IPH; Dr. Amit Abraham, Instructor in Population Health Sciences, and Dr. Marco Ameduri, Associate Professor of Physics/Senior Associate Dean for Pre-Medical Education and Education City Collaborative Curricular Affairs, all of WCM-Q.

 The paper analyzed existing public health education and found that traditional medical curricula continue to focus heavily on medical care, with many medical schools offering inadequate study of public health or preventive health. There was also evidence of a lack of skills training in leadership, management, communication, and patient advocacy for medical students. The paper also found that public health research efforts in high-income nations were poorly focused and lacked coordination, with many studies overlapping one another, and that less than five percent of projects had a stated outcome related to the leading risk factors for death and disability in the country in question. Furthermore, the vast majority of studies were found to be observational in nature, with very few focused on meaningful interventions.

 To address these challenges, the authors call for the introduction of robust, high-quality public health education for medical students, with a strong emphasis on practical field-work and real-world experiences, along with increased investment in interventional public health programs at national and international levels, plus a far more coordinated approach to public health research.

Background Information

Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar

Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar is a partnership between Cornell University and Qatar Foundation. It offers a comprehensive six-year medical program leading to the Cornell University M.D. degree with teaching by Cornell and Weill Cornell faculty and by physicians at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Aspetar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, the Primary Health Care Corporation, the Feto Maternal Center, and Sidra Medicine, who hold Weill Cornell appointments. Through its biomedical research program, WCM-Q is building a sustainable research community in Qatar while advancing basic science and clinical research. Through its medical college, WCM-Q seeks to provide the finest education possible for medical students, to improve health care both now and for future generations, and to provide high quality health care to the Qatari population.

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