Meet the Innovators: John Ehiri, PhD, MPH, MSc, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health

Oct. 4, 2021


The University of Arizona Health Sciences Global and Online partners with an extensive network of collaborators across the university. This allows us to expand global and online academic offerings in innovative ways to meet the needs of the next generation of health care professionals – at home and abroad. The “Meet the Innovators” series will shine a spotlight on the many experts who are working hard to reshape the future of global health care education, research and practice.

The University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health has long been a leader in global and online education. Over a decade ago, under the leadership of Dean Iman Hakim, MBBCh, PhD, MPH, the UArizona Zuckerman College of Public Health launched the Global Health Institute, building international partnerships and accelerating the university’s outreach around the world. They established the University of Arizona Health Sciences’ first microcampus partnerships and dual-degree programs at Gulf Medical University in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, and La Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla in Puebla, Mexico, in 2019, successfully expanding global access to public health education through the Master of Public Health in Public Health Practice program.

In this edition of “Meet the Innovators,” we are pleased to introduce you to John Ehiri, PhD, MPH, MSc, associate dean for academic affairs at the Zuckerman College of Public Health and a member of the Health Sciences Global and Online leadership team. We sat down with Dr. Ehiri to discuss the Zuckerman College of Public Health’s efforts as they continue to advance the health sciences into the global and online domains.


How has your own experience in global health shaped the way you contribute to and lead in global and online education?

My public health training, combined with my lived experiences in various parts of the world, have shaped the way I lead in global health. My early training in public health involved several months of field placements, and these experiences provided me with a robust appreciation for the role of social determinants in health and disease. They also equipped me with skills for practice. For example, placement at a local or district government health office in a low-income country provided opportunity for applied training in a wide range of public health practices such as infection control, outbreak investigation, food safety, immunization, waste management and water sanitation. I was also privileged to receive further training in public health in a high-income country, and thus I was able to appraise public health priorities and opportunities in contrasting economic and social conditions. Additionally, I received extensive exposure to global health practice and leadership in my position as a lecturer in international health at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in England, where I served as director of the Master of Community Health program. I was mentored by leading experts in global health, and I acquired invaluable global health training.


Why is it important to you to help propel the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health further into the global education space?

At the Zuckerman College of Public Health, we know that public health is global, and the pandemic has shown us that when it comes to health, we are all connected. The college is dedicated to promoting the health and wellness of individuals and communities in the Southwest and globally with an emphasis on achieving health equity through excellence in education, research and service. Better public health globally improves public health locally, and global public health education helps us train the public health leaders of tomorrow with a crucial global perspective. Dean Hakim established the Global Health Institute 10 years ago, and we will continue to expand our leadership into the global education space because it is so important for communities worldwide.


What new courses and programs are currently in development? How will these new offerings make an impact in global education?

Over the past year, we have created a new Global Health emphasis in our Master of Public Health program, as well as minors in Global Health and One Health. We also created graduate and undergraduate certificates in One Health. Our graduate certificate in Global Health and Development has been in existence since 2011; we are set to launch a graduate certificate in Indigenous Health and an undergraduate certificate in Global Health in spring 2022. Our faculty are engaged in critical research on various public health issues that have local, national and global significance. We innovate locally and replicate globally through our training of the current and future global health workforce.


How is UArizona Health Sciences Global and Online helping the Zuckerman College of Public Health achieve its goals?

Using UArizona Health Science Global and Online strategic initiative funds, we are currently developing an online graduate certificate program in maternal and child health epidemiology to educate the next generation of health sciences professionals on this important topic and ultimately benefit mothers and children around the world. We have also been able to contribute public health courses to the new interdisciplinary Innovations in Aging graduate certificate program – a Global and Online project collaboratively developed by all five of the Health Sciences' colleges – which will help prepare the workforce to meet the needs of older adults as our global population rapidly ages in the years to come.


What advice would you give to public health students around the world preparing to enter their careers?

A career in global health provides an opportunity for individuals to make practical contributions to promote health equity and social justice globally. For a successful global health career, one needs skills that are necessary for practice, including program planning, program intervention design, program evaluation, data analysis, policy analyses, research, nutrition assessment, community health needs assessment and many others. Global health students should seek opportunities to advance skills in these areas, and our college offers networks and opportunities for students to gain the experience and expertise they will need.


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