New public health course on pandemic management and global protection

Keele University has launched a new degree course that will focus on improving the health of entire communities and populations by identifying how to manage pandemics and epidemics, such as Covid-19, cancer, heart disease, obesity, mental health conditions and arthritis.

The Public Health course will help students to target inequality and focus on improving physical, social and mental health outcomes, and the wellbeing of people across local, regional, national and international populations.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted health inequalities across the world and the importance of global health protection, promotion and research. Science and knowledge on infectious diseases is constantly evolving, and this course will look at how to better manage disease outbreaks and health emergencies in the future.

The course has been designed over the last 12 months by experts in public health with backgrounds in the key areas of epidemiology, health protection and promotion, managing infectious diseases, and with links to the NHS, and local public health. The programme aligns with the national Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework and links with local and global employment opportunities and with further career development. The course starts in September 2020 and will enable students to work in a role which supports the public health agenda through health promotion, protection and the improvement of services.

Dr Ross Wilkie, course director and senior lecturer in Public Health and Epidemiology, said: “There is a need to tackle the inequalities that are impacting on population health. The current Covid-19 pandemic is a big challenge and we are now all aware of the threats of communicable diseases and some of the ways they are managed ranging from better hygiene, vaccination to social isolation. There are other pandemics and epidemics that we need to target such as the higher levels of some cancers, cardiovascular disease and mental health problems that we see in some communities. Many of these can be prevented and we need more people to work on this to improve overall health in the community, and prevent people from needing to access the NHS.

“The course provides a great opportunity for students from a range of backgrounds to develop skills that can improve the health of large numbers of people whether it be in Stoke-on-Trent, other parts of the UK, or if they want to work in other countries. We have designed the course so it directly links to future job opportunities, such as working in health protection and contributing to managing conditions such as Covid-19, tuberculosis and malaria, or work in projects to improve child health or work with older adults and promote health. As the environment keeps changing we need people to be ready to lead the management against these and prevent our communities becoming less healthy. The course will help students become these leaders.”