Center Celebrates Early Successes and Bright Future for the Global Health Equity Movement
Above. Timothy Johnson, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, speaks with WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during the Center Celebration event on March 14, 2023.
In March, the University of Michigan hosted a wide-ranging celebration of global health work across the university, punctuated by a visit from the World Health Organization’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
With the School of Public Health and the President’s Office, the Center was part of leading a convocation and panel discussion on Monday, March 13, during which Dr. Tedros received the Thomas Francis Jr. Medal in Global Public Health, one of the highest honors conveyed by the university.
On Tuesday, March 14, the Center hosted Celebrating the Movement: Global Health Equity at Michigan—a large gathering of many of the university’s faculty, staff, and student leaders in global health. Guests met U-M student organization and global health unit leaders, engaged poster and lightning presentations about U-M research projects in global health equity, and explored the Center’s history and ongoing development—including Tachi Yamada’s important legacy in global health and the impact of the Yamada family’s generosity in catalyzing the Center.
14 Student Organizations
6 Global Health Units
32 Posters on Global Health Equity Work
A Charge to Continue This Work
Dr. Tedros was the keynote speaker at the celebration event, and he reminded the assembly that, for all the recent advancements made in health, we still have a thirty-year difference in life expectancy between countries with the strongest health systems and those with the least developed. “Access and affordability are two of the most important determinants of health outcomes,” Tedros observed. “Health is not only a fundamental human right, but it is also a means to development.”
Since fall of 2020, the Center has been bringing together faculty and staff from all 3 U-M campuses with external partners in pursuit of novel solutions that advance health in low- and middle-income countries. Having officially opened during the pandemic, the celebration event was the closest thing the Center has had to a formal launch.
Along with Dr. Tedros, many members of the Yamada family, including Tachi’s wife Leslie, joined us to celebrate the growing movement around global health equity on campus and beyond.
With the Center’s remarkable early success—including a large, growing network of U-M and global members and nearly $3 million already invested in impactful research projects around the world—the energy at the event and the participants’ passion for global health equity were palpable.
298 Center Members
$2.7M Center Funding Awarded for Impact Projects
$13.8M in External (non-UM) Funding Enabled
For Joseph Kolars—the Center’s founding director, Josiah Macy Jr. Professor of Health Professions Education at the Medical School, and Professor in the School of Public Health—the week underscored the need for global health work and the university’s key role in such work: “My main takeaways from the entire experience are the overwhelming and affirming vitality of the global health equity movement at U-M and the remarkable endorsement of how that movement is unfolding here at Michigan from Dr. Tedros, the Yamada family, and the many faculty and staff in leadership positions here on campus and across the state of Michigan.”
Diverse Approaches to Advancing Equity
In his remarks, Dr. Tedros shared the World Health Organization’s commitment to continue working with the University of Michigan. “I wish to applaud the emphasis the Center is placing on equity, which I find relatively unique,” he said. “I am very glad that the Center is here, and the WHO can benefit from what you are doing.”
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Nancy Love presenting her collaborative work in Ethiopia to improve access to healthy water
Massy Mutumba presenting her collaborative work in sub-Saharan Africa to strengthen nursing education in a way that transforms health systems
Akbar Waljee presenting his collaborative work in Kenya using AI methods to improve healthcare delivery
Mustafa Naseem presents his collaborative work in Pakistan to engage fathers in improving maternal and infant health
The response from those in attendance was encouraging. “The passion and commitment of the people involved was palpable and inspiring,” said Sanae Yamada, daughter of Leslie and Tachi Yamada. “I felt my dad was with us in spirit, and I know it all would have made him incredibly happy.”
Leaders from student organizations around campus presented at the Center Celebration event and responded to inquiries from Dr. Tedros and other guests.
“It’s clear from all of this that we’re doing well, that we should be doing more of precisely this kind of work, and that we’re propelling a vibrant movement,” said Kolars. “That kind of external validation is priceless given how new the Center is and how ambitious we are in our mission to support health equity being realized in communities around the world."
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Understanding the Health Effects of Water Intermittency and Scarcity
Understanding How Marital Status Influences Microfinance Activities and Impacts Health
Developing a Health and Environment Monitoring Platform
Combining Biometric and Population Data for Powerful Community Health Tools
Vaccine Decision-Making among Marginalized and Displaced People
Citizen-Driven Governance and Accountability in Healthcare
Data Science and Artificial Intelligence as Early Warning Systems
Boosting Family Planning Uptake to Increase Birth Spacing
Understanding the Implications of an Aging Population
Empowering Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Women
A Holistic Approach to Maternal Depression Using the Tools of Anthropology