Two persons got to know each other seven years ago during the Med-e-Tel, international Telemedicine & eHealth conference held in Luxembourg. The persons shared similar interests in global telehealth and ehealth, and women in this specific area. Furthermore, due to their many working visits in Africa and Asia they found out the need to build competences in global public health.

During the years the persons discussed how they can develop deeper collaboration in between their own higher education organisations. Visits in two organisations were enlightening (Photos).

Photos from joint programme negotiations in Savonia, Feb 2020.

This all was a seed to new education programme. Planning process of the joint programme has happened mostly virtually, zoom-meeting, emailing, messaging, for instance. Joint programme needs jointly agreed curriculum and simultaneously bilateral contract approved by both higher education institutes (HEIs), the Deggendorf Institute of Technology (DIT)  in Germany and Savonia University of Applied Sciences Ltd (Savonia) in Finland.

The international joint Degree programme in Global Public Health is an education programme, organised jointly by two higher education institutions that belong to the countries’ official education system and that leads to higher education degree in global public health. Students of the programme study in English at both universities, and study modules are together planned and realised by DIT and Savonia. The Master programme is taught online. The student-exchanges are realised via annual intensive courses organised reciprocally by both universities – an intensive summer school at Savonia and an intensive winter school at DIT/ECRI.  For a student this programme promotes career development and improves working options. Students gain expertise, scientific knowledge and orientation towards working life related to global public health. During their studies students learn multidisciplinary and flexible implementation methods that strengthen networking, for instance. The joint programme offers an active and inspiring Moodle learning environment and supports collaboration possibilities due to the fact that students originate from different countries. The students’ versatile cultural backgrounds are a major part of what makes the programme special. Furthermore, it is important that what students learn from joint degree could be directly implemented in global public health practice. 

Savonia has in its Strategy for the years 2021-2024 the framework of multidisciplinary Human Security, which is composed in the fundamental recognition of the differing capacities, needs and circumstances of people globally. Savonia and DIT share the same interests in Human Security which they already showed in a joint project application. The new joint Master programme is built in connection with global public health trends like the EU global health policy that advocates equitable, high-quality and universal healthcare coverage and promotes fair, effective financing of research & development to benefit the health of all including health promotion and prevention.  Both national, in Finland and in Germany have expressed the need for professionals in social and health area with advanced global public education and training. High quality public health competences include understanding both local and global challenges.  Global public health meets diverse challenges related to population living in different parts of the world. Huge amount of available information and versatile digital health solutions have the potential to anticipate health challenges and to improve lives in many ways. These technologies contribute to improving the health and well-being of populations by extending the scope, transparency and accessibility of health services and information; improving service delivery; increasing health system efficiency; and empowering patients as part of a movement towards person-centred care.

International collaboration is an excellent way to create joint degree.

The essential tenet of this programme is that both populations health and global public health can be improved, and costs reduced through the effective use of digitalisation in the health promotion and prevention, for instance. The Master’s Programme is based on combination of modern working in public health environments, encouragement of utilisation related to One Health and Human Security solutions.  Globally leadership and management of public health are related to understanding of health policy and cultural aspects as well as privacy and data security issues.

The joint degree is realised in collaboration with two higher education institutions. Both DIT and Savonia UAS offer their best knowledge and competences to build modern, international joint Master’s degree programme of Public Health. Master’s degree has global Human Security framework, which connects a variety of global challenges and looks at people and their well-being rather than structures. The challenges are related health, food, water, energy and the bioeconomy. Human promoting security is channelled this way multidisciplinary mission-based on the development of our education, research and development.

Pirkko Kouri, PhD, Principal Lecturer in Healthcare Technology
Master School, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Finland

Anna E. Schmaus-Klughammer (LLB hons), Telemedicine and International Healthcare Law
Member of the Scientific Staff, THD – Technische Hochschule Deggendorf, Germany

International collaboration creates new Joint Master Programme in Global Public Health

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