New centres concentrate on aboriginal, global health

UBC faculty and students will be tackling health issues from Mount Currie to Mozambique with the establishment of two new health centres -- the Institute of Aboriginal Health (IAH) and the Centre for International Health (CIH).

The IAH's primary goal, developed through broad consultation with aboriginal communities in B.C., is to support the education of aboriginal health professionals.

"University-trained aboriginal health professionals are urgently needed since demand outstrips supply, particularly in health services," says UBC Co-ordinator of Health Sciences, Prof. John Gilbert.

A partnership of the First Nations House of Learning (FNHL) and the Office of the Co-ordinator of Health Sciences (OCHS), the institute will develop undergraduate and graduate health sciences courses specifically targeted to aboriginal students. Members will also conduct and co-ordinate research at UBC, and act as advocates and develop a support network for aboriginal health workers in communities throughout B.C. and across Canada.

Research and education activities will integrate aboriginal healing traditions and practices.

"The institute's academic programs and respectful research with First Nations communities will also help to expand the student services and programs we provide in the FNHL's Division of First Nations Health Careers," says Jo-Ann Archibald, director of the FNHL.

International health research, education and services are the focus of the Centre for International Health (CIH). The centre provides a structure for the existing UBC community of faculty and students concerned about world health issues.

"We want to move from pockets of international activities within a number of health-related areas toward a coherent international health strategy," says Gilbert. "The centre will help to demonstrate UBC's commitment to international and global health."

The centre, a unit of the OCHS, will support research spanning several disciplines, organize formal education activities, provide networking and communication forums and promote exchange opportunities for students and faculty.