What Is Wrong With Our Schools of Public Health?

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  • What Is Wrong With Our Schools of Public Health?Author(s): Gilles ParadisSource: Canadian Journal of Public Health / Revue Canadienne de Sante'e Publique, Vol. 102,No. 5 (September/October 2011), p. 323Published by: Canadian Public Health AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41995622 .Accessed: 14/06/2014 21:16

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    What Is Wrong With Our

    Schools of Public Health?

    Within a matter of weeks of each other, the heads of the Schools of Public Health (SPH) at the University of Alberta and the University of Montreal quit their jobs in 2011. The director of the SPH at the University of Toronto also left his job abruptly about a year earlier. Each had completed less than half of their first term. The public health (PH) community is justified to worry about the consequences of those departures and ask what this might mean for the future of PH in Canada.

    SPH play an essential role in the production, teaching and dissemination of knowledge for PH. Graduate training programs, innovation in theory, research, knowledge exchange and engagement with key partners are critical roles of SPH to support an effective PH system. However, SPH are very young in this country and have not yet contributed significantly as organizations to the renewal or the strengthening of the PH system. SPH can be traced back to the Schools of Hygiene created at the beginning of the XXth century at the University of Toronto and the University of Montreal. These were eventually merged into Faculties of Medicine as Departments of Social and Preventive Medicine in the 1970s. Since then, PH has mostly resided in Faculties of Medicine where, at best, it suffered from benign neglect or indifference from Faculty leadership. The renewed interest in PH was probably brought about by the early 2000s emergencies as well as by the prospect of attracting new funds from the recently created CIHR Institute of Population and Public Health and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

    There are many lessons from the recent events. First, even the best of plans to introduce major university changes in an environment of constrained resources can be derailed easily. Second, not all Faculty members within SPH will be supportive of change because it may threaten existing advantages or privileges. Third, other Faculties and Departments are competing for the same limited resources and can be fierce opponents of change. Fourth, the vision of and a commitment to the SPH must be shared at the highest level of the University and the chief executives must exert enlightened leadership.

    Will our universities step up to the plate and play their role in PH? Will they invest the financial and human resources required to create outstanding SPH? Although new SPH are sprouting up all over the country, I doubt a deeply held belief in PH or a true commitment is widespread at the top. Only time will tell.

    Gilles Paradis Scientific Editor

    Qu'est-ce qui cloche avec nos

    coles de sant publique?

    quelques semaines l'un de l'autre, les dirigeants des coles de sant publique (SP) de l'Universit de l'Alberta et de l'Universit de Montral ont dmissionn en 2011. Environ un an plus tt, le directeur de l'SP de l'Universit de Toronto avait lui aussi quitt son emploi brusquement. Chacun de ces responsables avait fait moins de la moiti de son premier mandat. La communaut de la sant publique est en droit de s'inquiter des consquences de ces dparts et de leur signification pour l'avenir de la sant publique au Canada.

    Les SP jouent un rle essentiel dans la production, l'enseigne- ment et la diffusion des connaissances en sant publique. Les pro- grammes de troisime cycle, les innovations thoriques, la recherche, l'change des connaissances et la mobilisation de parte- naires cls sont les rles nvralgiques que jouent les SP pour ren- forcer l'efficacit du rseau de la sant publique. Cependant, les SP sont trs jeunes au Canada; elles n'ont pas encore contribu de faon apprciable, en tant qu'organismes, au renouvellement ni au renforcement du rseau. Les SP trouvent leur origine dans les coles d'hygine cres au dbut du xxe sicle l'Universit de Toronto et l'Universit de Montral. Ces coles ont fini par tre happes par les facults de mdecine, o elles sont devenues les dpartements de mdecine sociale et prventive dans les annes 1970. Depuis, la sant publique rside principalement dans les facults de mdecine, o au mieux, elle subit la ngligence bien- veillante ou l'indiffrence des dirigeants de la facult. Le regain d'in- trt pour la sant publique s'explique sans doute par les urgences sanitaires du dbut des annes 2000 et par la perspective d'attirer de l'argent frais de deux institutions cres rcemment : l'Institut de la sant publique et des populations des IRSC et l'Agence de la sant publique du Canada.

    Il y a de nombreuses leons tirer des derniers vnements. Pre- mirement, dans un climat de raret des ressources, mme les meil- leurs plans pour introduire des changements universitaires majeurs peuvent facilement drailler. Deuximement, tous les membres du corps professoral d'une SP ne sont pas favorables au changement, qui peut menacer des intrts ou des privilges acquis. Troisime- ment, d'autres facults et dpartements se disputent les mmes res- sources limites et peuvent s'opposer frocement au changement. Quatrimement, la vision de l'SP et l'engagement envers la nou- velle institution doivent tre partags au plus haut niveau de l'uni- versit, et les instances dirigeantes doivent exercer un leadership clair.

    Nos universits prendront-elles leurs responsabilits et joueront- elles leur rle en sant publique? Y investiront-elles les ressources humaines et financires requises pour crer des SP exception- nelles? Il pousse de nouvelles SP dans tout le pays, mais je doute qu'au sommet, on soit pleinement convaincu de la valeur de la sant publique ou vritablement rsolu l'appuyer. Seul l'avenir nous le dira.

    Le rdacteur scientifique , Gilles Paradis

    Canadian Public Health Association, 201 1 . All rights reserved. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 201 1 323

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    Article Contentsp. 323

    Issue Table of ContentsCanadian Journal of Public Health / Revue Canadienne de Sante'e Publique, Vol. 102, No. 5 (September/October 2011), pp. 321-400Front MatterEDITOR'S PAGE/LE MOT DE LA RDACTIONWhat Is Wrong With Our Schools of Public Health? [pp. 323-323]Qu'est-ce qui cloche avec nos coles de sant publique? [pp. 323-323]

    COMMENTARY/COMMENTAIRELower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines for Canada (LRCUG): A Narrative Review of Evidence and Recommendations [pp. 324-327]

    INVITED EDITORIAL/DITORIAL INVITLower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines: For Whom? [pp. 328-329]

    QUANTITATIVE RESEARCHNon-medical Use of Prescription Opioids Among Ontario Adults: Data From the 2008/2009 CAMH Monitor [pp. 330-335]

    SYSTEMATIC REVIEW/EXAMEN SYSTMATIQUEFetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevalence Estimates in Correctional Systems: A Systematic Literature Review [pp. 336-340]

    PUBLIC HEALTH INTERVENTION/MESURE D'INTERVENTION EN SANT PUBLIQUEMumps in Prison: Description of an Outbreak in Manitoba, Canada [pp. 341-344]

    COMMENTARY/COMMENTAIREThe Impact of Influenza on the Canadian First Nations [pp. 345-348]

    QUANTITATIVE RESEARCHApproaches to Immunization Data Collection Employed Across Canada During the Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza Vaccination Campaign [pp. 349-354]

    COMMENTARY/COMMENTAIREMethod of Administration Affects Adolescent Post-immunization Survey Response Rate: Phone, Paper, Internet [pp. 355-357]

    QUANTITATIVE RESEARCHPrevalence of Smokeless Tobacco Use Among Canadian Youth Between 2004 and 2008: Findings From the Youth Smoking Survey [pp. 358-363]Active Transportation Environments Surrounding Canadian Schools [pp. 364-368]Short Sleep Duration Is Independently Associated With Overweight and Obesity in Quebec Children [pp. 369-374]Causes of Widening Life Expectancy Inequalities in Qubec, Canada, 1989-2004 [pp. 375-381]Calcium and Vitamin D and Risk of Colorectal Cancer: Results From a Large Population-based Case-control Study in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario [pp. 382-389]

    MIXED RESEARCH/RECHERCHE MIXTEBurden of Mortality Due to Ambient Fine Particulate Air Pollution (PM2.5) in Interior and Northern BC [pp. 390-393]

    COMMENTARY/COMMENTAIREBeing Global in Public Health Practice and Research: Complementary Competencies Are Needed [pp. 394-397]

    REGULAR FEATURES/RUBRIQUES RGULIRESLetter to the Editor/CorrespondancePreliminary Results for Street Racing Among Adults in Ontario: Relations to Alcohol and Cannabis Use [pp. 398-398]

    Back Matter