Questioning outcomes and impact of international public health educational programmes in Low and Middle Income Countries
Today, January 23, at 14.00 Prisca Zwanikken, KIT’s educational program director, is awarded her PhD at the University of Maastricht.
Many publications have highlighted the need to train more human resources to address the global shortage of health workers. Many educational institutes have answered to that call, including KIT and have developed master’s programs and trainings to provide health workers in Low- and Middle Income Countries with more skills to address the public health challenges in their countries.
Meeting real needs?
How well do these Masters’ programs fit to the actual needs of the health professionals that choose to enrol? How do they look back on their professional development and what skills do they attribute to their degree? How has the study enabled the graduates to improve health management, policy making and influence their work and how did it effect their professional career development? These and other questions about the outcomes and impact of public and international health educational programmes for low- and middle income countries have been addressed in Zwanikkens’ doctorate research over the last three and a half years.
Part of the study looked at the quality assurance of a transnational, cross-border Master’s in International health. Zwanikken: “this study was new as no study analysed the quality assurance a cross-border Master spanning high and middle and low income countries before”. The outcome of that study was positive the TropEd network is doing well; of course there were some recommendations for improvement, such as increased transparency towards employers.
Another study included in the doctorate thesis showed that previous studies hardly addressed the outcome and impact of a Master degree in Public Health whereas prospective students, donors and management are keen to know whether the education offered is needs-based and relevant. As part of the study innovative tools were developed to measure outcome and impact of Master degree programmes. The outcome of the study, covering six master’s in Public Health in Sudan, the Netherlands, Mexico, China, Vietnam & South Africa was primarily positive. Zwanikken: “we always say that our alumni are doing well, and make a contribution to improving health worldwide. These studies offer us the evidence to support that claim. Master programs contribute to careers of graduates and the students attribute their success to a certain degree to the educational programs.”
Zwanikken: “One of my recommendations is to give extra attention to the processes leading to quality assurance in international networks working together. Another recommendation is to uncover the mechanisms how the master’s programs can contribute more to the success of the graduates and their influence on work and society. The different schools involved will use the results for curriculum reform and innovation. The newly developed measurement tools may be used for educational standard setting, as well as continuous education and professional development for other international MPH programmes.”
Prisca Zwanikken: “The Masters of Public and International Health clearly have a positive contribution towards developing leadership in Public and International Health. Therefor our alumni become agents of change, changing health and health policy all over the world. Our alumni are my inspiration and I thank them, my colleagues and partners in the TropEd network as well as in our research consortium A2I covering four continents for all their support throughout my research and in our day to day work, educating future leaders in health around the world.”