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Working to improve public health in New Zealand

Wellington campus

Monday 1 February 2016 1:32pm

Michael Baker image
Professor Michael Baker

Leading international and New Zealand health experts will descend on Wellington throughout February to participate in the 20th Public Health Summer School run by the University of Otago, Wellington.

The Public Health Summer School 2016 starts today, 1 February, and offers short, practical 1-3 day courses aimed at researchers, practitioners and anyone wanting to develop their skills and understanding in public health. It has grown to become the largest and longest running summer school of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.

“The Public Health Summer School has gone from strength to strength. We’re now in our 20th year and have almost 800 course registrations for this February, which shows the high interest in such training,” says Professor Michael Baker, one of the Public Health Summer School organisers from the University of Otago, Wellington.

“It’s an intense three week learning experience where many leading public health experts from around NZ and across the globe gather to discuss the big issues affecting human health and try to solve them with practical actions,” he says.

Issues such as child obesity, tobacco control, and diseases like rheumatic fever that are linked to poverty will be covered, as well as the public health response to climate change, poor housing, growing inequalities, and the health of Māori and Pacific people.

“These topics will all be covered by day-long seminars which aim to find evidence-based solutions and define actions to respond to these issues,” says Professor Baker. There are also courses looking at the public health implications of international trade law, housing quality and supply, and innovative approaches to improve the mental health of indigenous people.

As well as focusing on key emerging issues, the Public Health Summer School includes a core set of courses aimed at increasing the skills of the workforce. These courses cover such areas as epidemiology, biostatistics, economics, qualitative methods, literature reviewing, health geography, screening methods, public health law and Maori health.

“We’ve learnt a lot from running the Public Health Summer School over the last 20 years,” says Professor Baker.

“It’s important that we as academics contribute to the debate on important current issues. New Zealanders want sound evidence, rather than just rhetoric, and research-based evidence is something we are well placed to provide. There also appears to be good support for continuing to build a sound ethical basis for our society, particularly reducing inequalities and greater sustainability, which are consistent themes running through the Summer School,” he says.

For further information, contact:

Professor Michael Baker
Department of Public Health
University of Otago, Wellington
Tel 04 918 6802
Mob 021 355 056

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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