Berkeley’s Online MPH Professor on the State of Global Health

The World Health Organization declared four global health emergencies during the past decade—two, Ebola and Zika, in just the past two years. The rise in disease outbreaks has public health officials across the world grappling with how to formulate more effective responses to such threats.

With these issues top of mind among public health professionals, we tapped into the expertise of Dr. Art Reingold, Associate Faculty Director and Associate Dean for Research at UC Berkeley Center for Global Health. Together with Dr. Wayne Enanoria, Dr. Reingold co-teaches the Outbreak Investigation course for the On-Campus/Online Master of Public Health program, focusing on methods and approaches to public health outbreak investigations. He shared his take on the future of global health and how his course creates an important baseline of knowledge for public health professionals today.

What do you see as the biggest issues in global health today?

Global health today and for the foreseeable future poses many challenges, including simultaneously confronting new infectious disease threats like Ebola and Zika, as well as the growing toll of noncommunicable diseases like diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease and depression. With many countries ill-prepared to deal with these dangers—either in terms of resources, personnel, etc.—training and capacity building become an important part of the equation. It is vital to avoid “brain drain” and instead equip public health professionals across the world in the areas of improved surveillance and threat detection, as well as how to implement adequate prevention and public health measures at the community level—all this combined with access to clinical care.

What would you say are the most important skills Online MPH students take away from your class?

I have strong interests in surveillance, outbreak detection, and outbreak investigation and response, which I’m able to share through the Outbreak Investigation course. Although the class cannot be expected to convert students into epidemiologists overnight, it gives these trainees a unique introduction to essential topics in the field. It provides an important framework on which they can build additional coursework, disease knowledge and field experience—the building blocks necessary to become an effective practitioner.

What are you focusing on right now?

My work is primarily in infectious disease prevention and control, especially through the use of vaccines. Through epidemiological studies, we are able gather knowledge to formulate appropriate policies to increase vaccine use and curb disease, community by community. I am also interested in diverse infectious diseases, such as influenza, meningitis, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, in addition to other important vaccine preventable childhood diseases, such as measles. I approach all of these topics using basic epidemiological study designs and thought processes, an approach I also teach in my courses.

Dr. Art Reingold has conducted epidemiologic research on a variety of infectious diseases in the United States and in developing countries. He currently has two Fogarty AIDS training grants in Uganda and Zimbabwe, and is principal investigator at UC Berkeley for a 25-year-old AIDS International Training and Research Program, which has provided multidisciplinary training and support for epidemiologic and behavioral studies related to AIDS, HIV transmission, and treatment in HIV-infected persons, focusing on Brazil, Peru, Thailand, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Uganda, Zimbabwe and the Ivory Coast. Reingold is a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Science and served on the World Health Organization’s Scientific Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE). His research expertise includes the interrelationship between tuberculosis and AIDS in developing countries, opportunistic infections in AIDS patients, and emerging and re-emerging infections and vaccine preventable diseases.

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