Introduction and Overview
Since its inception in 1993, the Department of Community and Global Health has been led by the following four professors: Professors Gen Ohi (April 1993- March 1996), Som-Arch Wongkhomthong (June 1996-March 1999), Susumu Wakai (August 1999-March 2006), and Masamine Jimba (June 2006-Present).
Advances in the field of global health rely on both knowledge and wisdom. In a changing world with emerging health challenges, our knowledge will always be imperfect. Therefore, it is important that the facts that we gather be considered in the context of wisdom gained through the experiences of the people who live in the communities where we carry out our work. For this reason, we need to listen carefully to the views of people from low- and middle-income countries and those who are committed to work alongside them.
The goal of our department is to create compassionate global health leaders who are able to integrate academic knowledge with the wisdom that resides in the communities we serve. We seek to link grassroots efforts that arise within communities with national and global policies that affect these communities, thereby empowering the citizens to improve their lives.
While the focus of this department is on improving the health of people in low- and middle-income countries and ameliorating health disparities, its mission goes far beyond protecting physical wellbeing. Good health is merely one aspect of a full life; most people seek something more. We have to ask to ourselves: how can we go beyond health to help people lead better lives? This question is intrinsic to our education and research. It is important that students and staff members never lose sight it.
As of 2020, the members of the department include department chair and professor, 3 assistant professors, 2 project assistant professors, 3 secretaries, 12 visiting lecturers, 22 doctoral students, 15 master's degree students, 2 research students, and 35 visiting researchers. About half of the department's students are international students.
The main objectives of our teaching activities are
- To train researchers who understand and complement the wise activities of practitioners in the field.
- To train practitioners who can also wisely carry out research in the field.
It is our goal to nurture a new generation of leaders who are not bound by conventional approaches to community and global health issues. We want them to be able to integrate their own knowledge and experience with what they learn from people who live and work in communities in low- and middle-income countries. We want them to develop their own inner voice to guide them as they face the challenges of protecting and improving the health and wellbeing of the world’s most vulnerable people. Our hope is to help our students to become compassionate global health leaders.
The department's graduate school offers a selection of advanced community and global health courses, which involve of both theoretical exercises and practical activities. All curricula focus on community health. Our main educational activities, beyond the core subjects, include technical assistance in writing master's and doctoral theses. We encourage students to publish their theses in international journals. In addition, we encourage students to gain field experience in order to understand the reality of global health. The following areas of competency are addressed in the curricula:
- Understanding of health and healthcare in global and resource-limited setting
- Evaluation, analysis, and dissemination of community health status and challenges
- Health equity and social justice
- Ethical Reasoning and Professional Practice
- Program management
Click on the link to download the list of the courses offered in the department (PDF).
Approximately half of the department's students are international students. Therefore, all lectures, practices, and discussions are held in English. For those without a health/medical background, we provide a wide variety of courses that cover critical health topics from a basic to an advanced level.
We also train young international leaders by offering a range of specialized lectures at different universities. Part of this initiative is supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The department has recently supported the following Ph.D. and master's theses: click the following link.
The major objectives of our research activities include:
- To promote research that has a significant social impact on global and local communities.
- To promote research that contributes to endogenous development.
Our goal is to carry out community-based research that will generate data that is directly collected from the field. Therefore, we place significant importance on fieldwork. At the same time, our department aims to contribute to policy making and promote actions to improve health and wellbeing outcomes by making the best use of community-based research. We carry out research by working in tandem with different research institutes, international organizations, JICA, NGOs, and universities in low- and middle-income countries. While we mainly conduct research in low- and middle-income countries, we also conduct research in Japan on matters of global importance.
Major topics of current research include the following: 1) health, nutrition, and development; 2) health, human rights, and human security; 3) ecological approach to infectious disease control; 4) health promotion; 5) disaster and health; 6) human resources for health worldwide; and 7) maternal, newborn, and child health.
Our research has been conducted in various countries, including Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Indonesia, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, and Peru.
Major objectives of our international cooperation activities include:
- To promote international cooperation that supports endogenous development.
- To promote asset-oriented development models.
International cooperation is not our main activity. However, just as staff of clinical departments/laboratories work on both education/research and clinical activities, our staff members engage in a variety of international cooperation activities, including working as consultants. We are mindful that our cooperation activities should be sensitive about avoiding a top-down approach, and would ideally encourage and "wait" for counterparts/countries' own endogenous development efforts to solve these problems. Therefore, we focus on the positive deviance approach and asset model approach. With that in mind, we are engaged in international cooperation activities in a number of low- and middle-income countries. We are also working on the "Health and Human Security" project in collaboration with PAHO/Japan Center for International Exchange. In addition, we contribute to strengthening policy implementation schemes with researchers/policy makers in the global health field, both in Japan and abroad.