The University’s disappointing global health impact

The University could do more to influence health issues worldwide.

Editorial board

 

Research is often the first thing that comes to mind when people think about the University of Minnesota. The legacy of past research, as well as exciting and groundbreaking work, has given the University a golden reputation as a leader in research that benefits the common good. But while the University’s role in producing important research for the U.S. and other developed nations is unquestionable, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate our role in the sphere of global health research.

The New York Times reported April 8 that several well-reputed American and Canadian research universities have received average or lower grades in policies and research that benefit the poverty-stricken people around the world. The report cards, developed by Universities Allied for Essential Medicines and released on the website globalhealthgrades.org, gave the University an overall global health impact grade of D.

In categories of innovation, access and empowerment, the University received grades of D-, D and C-, respectively. However, there are roles that students and faculty take in promoting global health awareness that the report cards did not address — like student service-learning trips abroad and the service of the University’s public health graduates.

But the fact remains that four other Big Ten schools placed ahead of Minnesota (50th of 54) in the rankings, suggesting our global research and educational impact policies might need substantial modification. By expanding undergraduate access to global health courses and programs, as well as considering more wide-ranging medical technology licensing policies, the University has an opportunity to expand its commitment to research in the global community.

Encouraging University students to study biological and economic impact of neglected diseases will spur health care innovation both at home and abroad.