The Centre for Global Health is committed to strengthening institutional partnerships that support impact and scholarship, and that are built on the principles of equity, engagement and excellence.
As a knowledge hub for global health research, education and service at the DLSPH, the Centre for Global Health supports the DLSPH community in engaging in scholarly activities with international institutions.
An institutional partnership is substantial engagement by multiple DLSPH community members and is aligned with the DLSPH’s strategic and operational plans. Institutional partnerships may include relationships between the DLSPH and one or more universities, research centres or agencies, with mutual interests and complementary research and education strengths.
There are important considerations to be made when engaging in institutional partnerships. The DLSPH’s commitment to equity, diversity and excellence in the pursuit of its academic mission is summarized in the DLSPH’s Statement on Equity, Diversity and Excellence (2017). It is a guiding document for all DLSPH partnerships, international or national. The statement acknowledges the central role that inequity plays in producing and shaping major public health problems, both locally and globally, and that issues of equity are not reduced to only the individual or interpersonal level, but can also be traced to the social structures that have historic, economic and political roots. This lens is particularly important when considering relationships between institutions in High Income Countries (HIC) and Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC).
Partnerships are essential in global health, where the goal is to improve health and achieve health equity for all people worldwide. As the field of global health grows, so do partnerships between institutions who seek alignment and exchange around areas of mutual interest and the ability to achieve outcomes that cannot otherwise be achieved alone.
However, imbalances in partnership arrangements, particularly in North-South collaborations, are a central concern to the global health community. At the Centre for Global Health, we acknowledge the asymmetries of global health, as expressed in the shaping of partnership agreements, management of projects, organizations, frameworks and resources globally. The Centre is committed to engaging in partnerships that are relationship-focused, ethical and committed to mutual learning and sharing credit, with a focus on meaningful and shared outcomes.
The Centre for Global Health seeks to transform the concept of reciprocity into action. Here are a few ways in which the Centre is working towards reciprocal exchange of knowledge and skills in its ongoing research and educational activities:
- Committing to reciprocal learning. In its mission for academic excellence, the Centre is committed to engaging and learning from its LMIC partners and providing a platform for knowledge exchange and dissemination around global health issues. Integrating learnings from LMIC contexts into local, Canadian settings is an important example of our global interdependence, our humility, and our engagement in co-learning. The Centre is committed to using its in-person and digital platforms to disseminate key learnings from its LMIC partners and to contribute to the global exchange and re-distribution of global health expertise.
- Addressing barriers to research and education for learners in LMICs – reciprocity within student programmes. The Centre is developing a suite of interdisciplinary research and educational offerings for learners at all stages of their academic and professional careers. The Centre is committed to enabling learners from LMIC to access these opportunities through various strategies, such as negotiating two-way student exchanges in North-South partnership agreements, and designing online courses for distance education, among others.
- Committing to measuring reciprocity. The Centre is committed to continuous improvement and is developing an evaluation framework to measure the impact of its activities and processes. A commitment to develop indicators that will uncover and address potential inequities in its collaborative processes will be pursued in an iterative manner, in alignment with its principles of equity, engagement and excellence.
- Negotiating reciprocity within institutional partnerships. The Centre acknowledges its placement within an institution in a HIC and is committed to operationalizing reciprocal rules of engagement when negotiating partnership agreements with international institutions.
- Enabling new models of collaboration. As a hub for interdisciplinary research and education in global health, the Centre is committed to enabling collaborations beyond the North-South models, but to extend to South-South collaborations and triangular partnerships, among others.
- Committing to knowledge generation around equity in collaborative health research. As the global health centre of an academic institution, the Centre continues to synthesize and generate knowledge around equitable collaboration in health research. The creation of student practicum opportunities to further explore good practices in this field is one way in which the Centre continues its scholarly contributions to the field.
Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) Consortium
UofT is a leading member of the North American institutions that make up the AMPATH consortium, primarily through the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. AMPATH is a partnership between Moi University, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, North American universities led by Indiana University, and the Kenyan Government. Together, AMPATH partners work to build holistic, sustainable health in Kenya and around the world.
To further the impact of this work, the DLSPH and Moi University’s School of Public Health (Eldoret, Kenya) signed a 3-year Memorandum of Understanding, providing a focused framework for joint public health research, training and educational collaboration.
Leading this partnership is Dr. Paula Braitstein, an Associate Professor at the DLSPH living and working in the western highlands of Kenya and Co-Field Director of Research for the AMPATH Consortium. AMPATH has a tripartite mission: care, training/education, and research. AMPATH’s priority foci currently are on population health, chronic diseases, and universal health care.
“UofT’s partnership with the Fundacão Oswalso Cruz (Fiocruz) is a testament to the breadth and depth of global health expertise at the DLSPH and its commitment to cultivating strong partnerships with leading global institutions.”
In 2015, UofT and Fiocruz signed a 5-year Memorandum of Understanding as a platform for institutional engagement. In April 2020, both institutions extended this agreement by 5 years to strengthen the collaborative work done already together and to further sharpen their joint efforts.
Fiocruz is a national health institution in Brazil whose mission is to generate and disseminate knowledge and technologies aimed at strengthening the Brazilian health system, with a particular focus on health promotion, reducing health inequities, and the development and improvement of public health policies.
During a visit by Fiocruz’s President Dr. Nisia Trindade Lima to the DLSPH in February 2020, members from both institutions re-explored areas of mutual interest on which to focus their renewed agreement. Collaborative interests were manifold and included engagement and interest from various faculties across UofT, such as the DLSPH, UTSC and the DFCM. For the greatest impact, UofT and Fiocruz identified the intersection of various sectors and disciplines to respond to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as an area of joint collaboration, among others such as universal health coverage, the exploration of innovative approaches to environmental health, gender, and the role of technology as an accelerator towards the SDGs.
With the support from the Centre for Global Health, the extended agreement between UofT and Fiocruz will continue to support interdisciplinary research within and outside of UofT, will promote the expansion of new educational programming and scholarly exchange, while creating international impact for Canada, Brazil and the broader global health community.
Moi University School of Public Health (East Africa)
In 2017, the DLSPH signed a three-year memorandum of understanding with Moi University’s School of Public Health (Eldoret, Kenya). Building on the University of Toronto’s engagement in the AMPATH consortium and the recommendation from the Kuwa Tayari workshop held in May 2016 (https://www.cugh.org/sites/default/files/CS22_Braitstein.pdf), the MOU provides a framework for joint public health research, training and education collaborations engaging faculty and students in both institutions. Current priority areas include: a joint graduate course in planetary health involving students in Toronto and Eldoret, MPH practicum opportunities, and student/trainee research opportunities at the graduate and post-graduate levels on a range of topics in global and applied population health. DLSPH’s efforts are led by Dr. Paula Braitstein, with support from Erica Di Ruggiero in the Centre for Global Health. Moi University’s School of Public Health efforts are led by Dr. Susan Keino.
WHO Collaborating Centre for Bioethics
As one of the DLSPH’s four institutes and centres, the Joint Centre for Bioethics (JCB) is a WHO Collaborating Centre for Bioethics. The JCB received its designation in 2002, when it became the first WHO Collaborating Centre for Bioethics and has since become the co-founder and inaugural chair of the Global Network of WHO Collaborating Centres for Bioethics, which comprises 6 WHO Collaborating Centres in 4 WHO regions. As a network of multidisciplinary professionals from UofT and affiliated healthcare organizations, the centre plays a vital role in providing leadership in bioethics research, education, practice and public engagement.
WHO CC for Governance, Accountability, and Transparency in the Pharmaceutical Sector
The World Health Organization Collaborating Centre (WHO CC) for Governance, Accountability, and Transparency in the Pharmaceutical Sector was established in 2015 at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. Led by Jillian Kohler, a recognized global expert on corruption and governance in the pharmaceutical system, along with Techinical Director Dierdre Dimancesco based at the WHO and supported by renowned scholars at the University of Toronto, Carleton University and the University of San Diego, this centre is charged with conducting research, analysis, and training on critical issues related to good governance and transparency in medicines.
Public Health Foundation of India
In 2016, the DLSPH signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding with the Public Health Foundation of India, creating a platform for collaboration. Both institutions are committed to fostering research and educational cooperation, with particular attention to global health topics of mutual interest (e.g. JCR1000Y course; collaboration on research funding proposals). DLSPH efforts are led by Erica Di Ruggiero.
Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China)
In 2016, the DLSPH and the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention entered into a five year collaboration, with a commitment to develop joint-activities in the fields of education, research and capacity-building. Collaborative activities include MPH practicum opportunities for DLSPH students, and linkages to Public Heath Ontario. DLSPH efforts are spearheaded by Dr. Xiaolin Wei.