Shaping Public Health Education, Research, and Policy in the Arab World
While the Arab World has enjoyed substantial economic progress, there has been little improvement in ensuring equitable access to health care. In most countries, the majority of people have limited access to basic health services. These are typically of poor quality and not well suited to local needs. The region is also highly vulnerable to environmental change due to water scarcity, social and political conflict, poverty, food insecurity, and its weak institutions. Scientific output is low, and plays little role in guiding national and regional development. With social and political change sweeping the region, there are opportunities for reform. This project supports the Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut in carrying out a comprehensive and long-term effort to strengthen health research, build partnerships, and enhance public health education in the Arab world. The aims are to increase levels of research productivity in the region, improve public health practice, and encourage evidence-based policymaking. To foster collaboration and capacity building among a range of disciplines, across institutions and geographical borders, the existing Center for Research on Population and Health aims to serve as a hub of regional networks. It is coordinating and strengthening two existing research networks: the Reproductive Health Working Group and the Tobacco Control Research Group. It is also establishing a new multi-country network on agriculture, the environment, and health. Additional research themes include non-communicable diseases, monitoring health inequities, and the impact of war and the regional governance crisis on public health. New research centres are being established to address policy dimensions of public health strengthening and the training needs of public health professionals.