|Dr. Muge Akpinar-Elci will head the World Health Organization collaborating center at St. George's University through 2016.|
Through education, service, and research, the St. George’s University Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM), chaired by Dr. Omur Cinar Elci, has aimed to promote public health both regionally and internationally. Its efficacy and impact were acknowledged on August 10, 2012, when it was designated as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center on Environmental and Occupational Health, the first of its kind in the Caribbean.
This prestigious designation is for a period of four years, and will be headed by Dr. Muge Akpinar-Elci, associate professor and track director for environmental and occupational health in the DPHPM. The Department was informed of the distinction by Dr. Merta Roses Periago, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
“This historical achievement is the outcome of exceptional hard work and collective vision of the DPHPM team,” Dr. Omur Cinar Elci said. “My team and I would like to present this success as our contribution to the people of Grenada and the Caribbean. With this designation, SGU and Grenada has become a regional hub on environmental and occupational health, which emerged at the beginning of the 21st century as one of the most critical public health issues around the world.”
Dr. Elci initiated the idea to establish a collaborating center in 2009. The formal application, filed in 2010, was supported by the Grenada Ministry of Health and PAHO’s Caribbean Program Coordinator’s office in Barbados.
“SGU is very proud of the designation of the DPHPM as a WHO collaborating center which aligns so well with the University’s mission to become an international center of excellence,” said Dr. Cal Macpherson, vice provost for international program development at SGU. “We recognize the hard work done by the DPHPM team and its collaborators in achieving this recognition and wish Dr. Muge Akpinar-Elci and her team all the best in meeting the centers’ objectives and commitments.”
WHO collaborating centers are designated by the WHO Director-General to implement activities in support of WHO’s programs. The centers are beneficial to both WHO and the regional countries; WHO gains access to top centers worldwide and receives the institution’s support to the global health initiatives. In return, the centers receive visibility and recognition by national and international authorities. WHO affiliation helps collaborating centers to develop partnerships with other institutions, which can help generate resources from funding partners.
The SGU WHO collaborating center is committed to contribute to WHO’s strategic program in a number of ways, including: to assess and manage occupational safety and health hazards; to collaborate with WHO in developing evidence-based research from occupational health perspective on emerging issues, including environmental health problems and climate change; to provide expertise and potential for developing and disseminating curricula, training materials and training for occupational health capacity building in the Caribbean region; and to contribute towards the implementation of the Global Plan of Action on Workers' Health and collaborate with other collaborating centers to achieve defined outcomes.
The DPHPM through its faculty, students and community partners have included a significant environmental and occupational health component to its teaching, research, service and scholarly activities. Over the last few years the DPHPM led several environmental related research programs including occupational health among nutmeg workers and health care workers, renewable energy, land degradation, food and water borne diseases and zoonotic diseases.
The DPHPM will continue to advance its work to address the environmental and occupational health needs of the Caribbean region. The DPHPM would like to thank its collaborators, who have supported its work including the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) through which all of its research and service as well as funding activities are administered. The DPHPM looks forward to continuing the work with all of its partners as well as invite all interested stakeholders to join its WHO collaborating center for the benefit of the Caribbean region.
Published on 8/28/12