Established in 1877, the University of Manitoba (UM) is the oldest university in Western Canada and has been active in international HIV-related research, programming and knowledge translation since the early 1980s. The UM’s Institute of Global Public Health (IGPH) focuses on scientific approaches to policy development and program implementation and has extensive global experience in research, policy development and program implementation. This field experience has been translated into program guidelines and policies that have been incorporated into national policies in several countries across the globe including Pakistan. It has forged important partnerships with global health policy leaders, national government agencies, international agencies (i.e. BMGF, World Bank, WHO, UN organizations, US Centre for Disease Control etc.,) and key research institutions to create essential platforms for research and knowledge translation. These platforms link with the Global program of the University of Manitoba and provides Pakistan an opportunity to share its experience at various global platforms and also learn from others experiences to accelerate the development, translation and dissemination of knowledge generated by the country level activities.
Realizing the fact that academic partnerships are essential for fostering strong and effective public health practice and policy development, both UM & HSA engaged in a joint partnership, with the Ministry of National Health Services, Research and Coordination (MoNHSRC) as a key stakeholder. This joint venture aims to build upon each other’s experiences; influences, and relationships to strengthen human resources for health, and ultimately improving health services in Pakistan and globally. It works through three foundation pillars each representing a specific area of work, each having its specific objectives and activities. The three key pillars as: 1) Academic collaborations, 2) Policy & Programs and 3) Research.
PILLAR 01 – ACADEMICS
As international academic research institution, both Health Services Academy and University of Manitoba commit to bring resources together, to provide learning opportunities for the faculty, students and community health residents of both UM and HSA. The long-term objectives of this partnership is to jointly develop joint degree programs, student and faculty exchange programs and offer learning sites for various key health research and program areas. Among the various activities designed under this work area included:
Joint academic courses
The University of Manitoba’s faculty is regularly involved in teaching some of the key academic courses for the regular MSPH program offered by HSA. These include teaching in the core courses of:
- Basic Epidemiology
- Basic Biostatistics
- Applied Epidemiology and Biostatistics
- Protocol Development
Dissertation Scholarships and research support
The UM offers 4 to 6 scholarships for students to support field work and data collection for successful completion of their dissertations for MSPH degree program. The students are selected through a competitive process, by a team comprising of UM and HSA faculty. The qualifying students are not only provided financial assistance, but are also provided hand holding support by UM faculty who serve as co-supervisors and oversee the entire research process.
Capacity building and knowledge sharing activities.
In addition to regular teaching, HSA and UM have regularly organized various knowledge sharing and capacity building activities for students and young public health professionals. Some of these include:
- A seminar on “Program Science and its application in Public Health programs” – December 2016
- A training workshop on “Writing Systematic Review” in Collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) – Sept 2017
- An awareness seminar on “The Epidemiology of HIV in Pakistan” in collaboration with the National AIDS Control program and UNAIDS – March 2018
- A training workshop on ‘Manuscript Writing’ to strengthen academic writing capacity in Pakistan – March 2018
- An informatory seminar on “MNCH Countdown initiative 2030” in Pakistan – January 2020
Faculty Exchange Program
The two institutions have also initiated a faculty exchange program, the purpose of which is to provide opportunities for faculty of both institutions to collaborate in the partial design and teaching of an academic course. The joint courses taught at HSA are an outcome of this activity, while faculty from HSA has also been involved in delivering lectures at the UM in Canada. Dr James Blanchard, Dr Maryanne Crockett and Dr Faran Emmanuel from the University of Manitoba have been provided adjunct faculty positions at Health Service Academy, while Dr Asad Hafeez and Dr Saima Hamid have faculty positions at the University of Manitoba.
PILLAR 02 – POLICY and PROGRAM
Policy inputs at the highest level could have appreciable impact on the achievement of health agenda within the Sustainable Development Goals. Through this partnership, we therefore are working to develop high impact programs to build support across government for higher levels of investment in health, and to ensure that health is prioritized within overall economic and development plan of Pakistan to achieve the SDGs.
Health and Population Think Tank
One of the key activities within this pillar includes participation of UM in the Health and population Think Tank (HPTT) which is a high-level forum, that fosters multi-sectoral partnership and collaboration to review and analyse key health issues in Pakistan. The think tank is an independent entity of MoNHSR&C linked to its planning/policy arm i.e. Health Planning, System Strengthening & Information Analysis Unit (HPSIU), and is housed in the Health Services Academy (HSA). UM is a core member of the think tank team, and has been supporting the activities through provision of technical as well as financial support especially focussed around areas of RMNCH-A and Universal Health coverage.
Establishing the Global Health Department (GHD)
The Global Health Department (GHD) has been established at the Health Services Academy in collaboration with the University of Manitoba. The GHD envisions to foster partnerships between the Institute of Global Public Health, University of Manitoba, Centre for Global Public Health-Pakistan, Health Services Academy, the Health and Population Think Tank, Health Policy Unit at the Ministry of National Health Services and multiple other international partners and universities to launch global health programmes and projects in Pakistan.
The MNCH Countdown initiative (Countdown 2030)
The MNCH Countdown to 2030 (CD2030) initiative has been tracking progress of life-saving interventions for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and Nutrition (RMNCH+N) since 2005 (countdown2030.org). The UM has partnered with HSA, to generate women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health related evidence and better inform country level annual and midterm reviews of health progress and performance, In this context, a major objective of the current phase is to strengthen generation of evidence and analytical capacity at the country level. The Countdown 2030 will also help establish a mechanism of regular review, which will include a mid-term review of national-level health indicators feeding directly into the Annual Health Sector Report based on the Health Vision and Action Plan. The first report of this series focuses on family planning, maternal, newborn and child health; and reviews the progress on SDGs and related targets for MNCH.
Support for DCP3 Package and Universal Health coverage
At a policy and programmatic level, the MoNHSRC has conducted an extensive DCP-3 analysis, and also conducted a Global Burden of Disease study. This aims to develop a set of prioritized essential health interventions across multiple tiers of service delivery within a feasible budget. This also aims to track the progress towards UHC through implementation of essential interventions, with a special focus on interventions in the field of RMNCAH+N. The HAS-UM partnership has been a key member of these discussions and has supported the initiative through collecting important research data. More recently the HAS-UM team is involved in developing a monitoring and evaluation plan for UHC, which will be linked to the GFF-supported investment case and national DCP-3 initiative-based roll-out of prioritized set of essential interventions. This will build on previous work on the country’s SDG3 indicator localization exercise that has been conducted during 2019.
PILLAR 03 – RESEARCH
With the continued scarcity of available resources and escalating costs of health care, there is an increasing need for countries to conduct research and generate evidence that could feed into high-impact interventions that become national priorities, are cost effective and scalable at the country level. Research therefore is at the forefront of this collaboration agenda that follows up on the suggestions and recommendations provided by the Health and Population Think Tank as well as research priorities set by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination.
To support the DCP-3 initiative and the roll out of the UHC package in ICT, UM and HSA has conducted multiple research studies, involving support of faculty and graduate students. Some of these research initiatives include:
- Effective coverage of key RMNCH services including Antenatal, Postnatal and Child health services in the squatter settlements of ICT
- Baseline survey of community health indicators in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT)
- Service Availability and Readiness Assessment (SARA) of public health facilities in ICT