Setting-up in a transitional country
Maksut Kulzhanov a
Kazakhstan is a new independent country formed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The health-care system of the Kazakh Republic has been reformed dramatically. The results of this reform process show that the national health-care system needs new types of public health specialists. In 1997, the Kazakhstan School of Public Health (KSPH) was established with the support of WHO, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other international agencies. During the 10 years of its history, the KSPH has had a partnership programme with the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, United States of America, and collaborates with many other institutions that provide public health education in Europe and in the Americas. We have now created and adopted in our legislation a two-year master’s programme in public health (MPH), as well as a one-year certificate programme and more than 30 short-term programmes for existing managerial staff of health facilities.
In the past five years, more than 100 MPH students have graduated from the KSPH and most of them returned back to their “oblast” (province) health-care system. Some of our MPH graduates have taken up high-level administrative positions and influenced the regional health-care reform process.
We are building research capacity in the KSPH with projects from the Ministry of Health and collaboration with other universities. From the research done at the school, the students learn issues and challenges in global health. The students choose a topic from among the many health reform plan activities in Kazakhstan for their final end-of-course thesis.
To support public health research in central Asia, the KSPH created the Central Asian Health Services Research journal (http://journal.ksph.kz/indexe.htm), which is published quarterly in two languages – English and Russian. The annual scientific conference organized by the KSPH every September is now the platform for health professionals from central Asia to present and share their experiences.
A short training course started in 1999 and the first master’s degree course began in 2001. The faculty has grown by recruiting from the school’s own graduates. The KSPH now has five departments with 40 full-time professors. To overcome staff shortage and to bring diversity, we have adjunct faculty from partner institutions who also train our faculty in good teaching practices.
Curriculum development is an ongoing process and we constantly review it for further improvement and relevance. A priority is to introduce distance-learning. The KSPH promotes a field- and problem-based learning approach.
The summer school network for central Asia is an important KSPH activity and supports close collaboration with neighbouring countries, including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. ■
- Kazakhstan School of Public Health, Almaty, Kazakhstan.