Twenty students from 15 countries graduate 37th class of international master’s in public health program

From left: Patrick Buruga of South Sudan, Sarah Achen of Uganda, Grace Nyamory Apiyo of Kenya, Oladipo Akinmade of Nigeria, Pears Foundation Israel representative Dina Gidron, Elias A. Yusef of Ethiopia, Eta Mbong Ngole of Cameroon, Oluwafunke Ilesanmi of Nigeria, Emmanuel Koyano Bunzari of TanzaniaSeptember 24, 2012: The 37th class of the Hebrew University’s international master’s in public health (IMPH) program at the Braun Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine held its graduation ceremony at the University’s Ein Kerem medical campus earlier this month. The 20011/12 graduating class comprised 20 students from 15 countries — Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Macedonia, Nepal, Nigeria, Russia, St. Lucia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and the US.

IMPH program director and Braun School incoming director Prof. Yehuda Neumark, who hosted the ceremony, paid tribute to various donors for providing full scholarship support for students from the developing world: the Pears Foundation of Britain, which funds the largest number of scholarships; the Hebrew University; the Hadassah Medical Organization; the University’s British, American and Canadian Friends organizations as well as individual supporters. He thanked Britain’s Bonita Trust which will be providing support for an Indian student in the coming academic year and praised the decision of MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation — and an original co-founder of the IMPH program — to renew its scholarship support for the program.

Keynote speaker was Dr. Nayanjeet Chaudhury MD, a 2005/6 IMPH alumnus who currently serves as research director for Population Services International, India, part of a Washington DC-based international NGO operating in 67 countries. In a multimedia presentation entitled ‘From MPH classroom training to field practice: the travelogue of a young public health professional’, Dr. Chaudhury outlined the progress of his career since returning to India from Israel and described how the skills and knowledge he had acquired during the IMPH program had contributed to his professional development and to his approach to public health policy and practice.

Dr Chaudhury has served in several academic positions and on the boards of many Indian and international organizations in both the US and India. He was chief coordinator of a preventive, rehabilitative and research centre for silicosis victims in Gujarat, and he is a qualified health and fitness instructor. In collaboration with his former teachers from the Braun School, Jaime and Rosa Gofin and the University of Nebraska Medical Center in the US, Chaudhury also has established an MPH program at the Asian Institute of Public Health in India.

Other speakers included Braun School outgoing director Prof. Orly Manor, Faculty of Medicine Dean Prof. Eran Leitersdorf, Hadassah University Hospital (Ein Kerem) Director and MPH alumnus Dr. Yuval Weiss, and MASHAV director Ambassador Danny Carmon, all of whom stressed the importance of sharing Israel’s healthcare expertise with the world. University Vice-Rector Prof. Yaacov Schul described the University’s various internationalization initiatives, including the teaching of degree courses in English, with the IMPH serving as a pioneering program in this area.  

In his response on behalf of the students, class representative Dr. David Antwi-Agyei of Ghana gave an impassioned speech in which he praised the program, its staff and his wonderful experience in Israel, while remarking on the contrast between the reality of the country and its portrayal in the media. He expressed his thanks to the Pears Foundation and all the donors whose support enabled the students to undertake the IMPH program.

In a message he sent to the students, Pears Foundation Executive Director Charles Keidan stressed the importance of the IMPH program for the Foundation and congratulated the new graduates. In addition to being the primary donor of IMPH scholarships, the Pears Foundation sponsors an ongoing alumni program — including international workshops, newsletters, databases and seed grants for selected research projects — which encourages its graduates to build upon the IMPH’s many years of success and forge contacts with their fellow graduates, the Braun Schol and with Israel.