Tribal Area Health Education Center Will Address Tribal Health Care Needs, Train Workforce

The Arizona Area Health Education Center (AzAHEC) Program at the University of Arizona Health Sciences recently selected the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care to develop a new American Indian Health AHEC Regional Center dedicated to developing health profession education initiatives and expanding access to health care for tribal communities in Arizona.

The new American Indian Health (AIH) AHEC Regional Center will be the sixth AHEC Regional Center in Arizona. It is the first in the state and one of the few in the US outside of Alaska to focus exclusively on the American Indian health care system and its workforce.

Leila Barraza, JD, MPH, is director of the AzAHEC Program and associate professor of community, environment and policy in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

American Indians have some of the highest rates of health disparities, poverty and poor health outcomes when compared with other ethnic and minority communities in the US, according to Indian Health Service.

“Tribes in Arizona experience a serious shortage of health care professionals compared to other regions in the state,” said Leila Barraza, JD, MPH, director of the AzAHEC Program and associate professor of community, environment and policy in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. “The new American Indian Health Regional Center can begin to alleviate some of these shortages by working closely with our tribal health systems and enhancing their current workforce strategies.”

The mission of the AzAHEC Program is “to enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventive care, by improving the supply and distribution of health care professionals through academic community educational partnerships in rural and urban medical underserved areas.”

In collaboration with the San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation and Gila River Health Care, the AIH-AHEC Regional Center will implement educational and training activities to improve the supply and distribution of health care professionals within tribal communities.

The AIH-AHEC Regional Center will help build a future health care workforce by providing community-based health professions rotations, assisting with continuing education, supporting health care staff and promoting health care careers for K-12 students.

“This center will host a variety of programs that ensure children and youth are exposed to health care professions from an early age and feel empowered to pursue these professions, equipped with knowledge and cultural competencies critical to directly impact the health of their own communities,” said Kim Russell, director of the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care. “It will be uniquely positioned to address disparities in concert with the five other AHEC Regional Centers in Arizona, the University of Arizona and the AzAHEC Program leaders and resources across all health professions.”

Dan Derksen, MD, is associate vice president of health equity, outreach and interprofessional activities for UArizona Health Sciences, director of the Center for Rural Health in the Zuckerman College of Public Health, and UAHS AzAHEC Program senior advisor and principal investigator.

It will also host an AHEC Scholars Program, which offers students community-based experiential training in rural or underserved settings.

Additionally, the AIH-AHEC Regional Center will conduct training and coach individuals to become health care providers serving in their home communities. The partners plan to adopt “grow your own” strategies to address the shortage of health care professionals and reduce health disparities in Arizona’s tribal communities.

“The AIH-AHEC Regional Center will be one of the first of its kind in the US outside of Alaska, and align perfectly with the AHEC mission that has been an integral part of the University and Arizona communities for nearly 40 years,” said Dan Derksen, MDassociate vice president of health equity, outreach and interprofessional activities for UArizona Health Sciences, director of the Center for Rural Health in the UArizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and the UAHS AzAHEC Program senior advisor and principal investigator.

The AIC-AHEC joins five existing AHEC Regional Centers in Arizona:

  • Central Arizona AHEC, housed in the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers in Phoenix that represents 23 community health center systems in 175 sites across the state, and serves as Arizona’s Primary Care Association.
  • Colorado Plateau Center for Health Professions, housed in North Country HealthCare in Flagstaff, with Federally Qualified Health Center sites across northern Arizona’s counties.
  • Eastern Arizona AHEC based in in Globe.
  • Southern Arizona AHEC, housed in El Rio Health with 14 FQHC sites in Pima County.
  • Western Arizona AHEC, housed in the Regional Center for Border Health in Somerton.

In fiscal year 2022, the AzAHEC Program, in collaboration with the existing five AHEC Regional Centers in Arizona and the nine Rural Health Professions Programs, provided 2,983 community-based experiential training rotations for 1,527 health professions students in Arizona. In fiscal year 2021, the AzAHEC Program provided 10% of the total rotations provided by all 56 AHEC programs in the nation.

Congress authorized the federal AHEC Program in 1971. There are 56 AHEC Programs and 236 Regional Centers in 47 states.

Schools ill-equipped to provide healthy and inclusive learning environments for all children – UNICEF, WHO

Despite a steady decline in the proportion of schools without basic water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services, deep inequalities persist between and within countries, UNICEF and WHO said today. Schoolchildren in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and fragile contexts are the most affected, and emerging data shows that few schools have disability-accessible WASH services.

“Far too many children go to school without safe drinking water, clean toilets, and soap for handwashing—making learning difficult,” said Kelly Ann Naylor, UNICEF Director of Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Climate, Environment, Energy, and Disaster Risk Reduction . “The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of providing healthy and inclusive learning environments. To protect children’s education, the road to recovery must include equipping schools with the most basic services to fight infectious diseases today and in the future.”

“Access to water, sanitation and hygiene is not only essential for effective infection prevention and control, but also a prerequisite for children’s health, development and well-being,” said Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health . “Schools should be settings where children thrive and not be subjected to hardship or infections due to lack of, or poorly maintained, basic infrastructure.”

Schools play a critical role in promoting the formation of healthy habits and behavior, yet many still lack basic WASH services in 2021. According to the latest data from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP):

  • Globally, 29 per cent of schools still lack basic drinking water services, impacting 546 million schoolchildren; 28 per cent of schools still lack basic sanitation services, impacting 539 million schoolchildren; and 42 per cent of schools still do not have basic hygiene services, impacting 802 million schoolchildren.
  • One-third of children without basic services at their school live in LDCs, and over half live in fragile contexts.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania are the only two regions where coverage of basic sanitation and hygiene services in schools remains below 50 per cent; sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where coverage of basic drinking water services in schools remains below 50 per cent.
  • Achieving universal coverage in schools globally by 2030 requires a 14-fold increase in current rates of progress on basic drinking water, a three-fold increase in rates of progress on basic sanitation, and a five-fold increase in basic hygiene services.
  • In LDCs and fragile contexts, achieving universal coverage of basic sanitation services in schools by 2030 would require over 100-fold and 50-fold increases in respective current rates of progress.

Improving pandemic preparedness and response will require more frequent monitoring of WASH and other elements of infection prevention and control (IPC) in schools, including cleaning, disinfection and solid waste management.

Providing disability-accessible WASH services in schools is key to achieving inclusive learning for all children. Still, only a limited number of countries report on this indicator and national definitions vary, and far fewer provide disability-accessible WASH.

  • Emerging national data shows that disability-accessible WASH coverage is low and varies widely between school levels and urban and rural locations, with schools more likely to have accessible drinking water than accessible sanitation or hygiene.
  • In half the countries with data available, less than a quarter of schools have disability-accessible toilets. For example, in Yemen, 8 in 10 schools have toilets, but only 1 in 50 schools have disability-accessible toilets.
  • In most countries with data, schools were more likely to have adapted infrastructure and materials – such as ramps, assistive technology, learning materials – than disability-accessible toilets. For example, in El Salvador, 2 in 5 schools have adapted infrastructure and materials, but only 1 in 20 have disability-accessible toilets.


Notes to editors:

Read the WHO/UNICEF JMP 2022 Data Update on WASH in schools and download the data here.

Read more about the WHO/UNICEF JMP here.

Download multimedia content here.

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information about UNICEF and its work, visit: www.unicef.org

Follow UNICEF on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and YouTube

About WHO

Dedicated to the well-being of all people and guided by science, the World Health Organization leads and champions global efforts to give everyone, everywhere an equal chance at a safe and healthy life. We are the UN agency for health that connects nations, partners and people on the front lines in 150+ locations – leading the world’s response to health emergencies, preventing disease, addressing the root causes of health issues and expanding access to medicines and health care. Our mission is to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.

For more information about WHO and its work, visit www.who.int

Follow WHO on TwitterFacebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch

For more information, please contact:

Sara Alhattab, UNICEF New York, Tel: +1 917 957 6536, [email protected]

WHO Media Team: E-mail: [email protected]

RURAL HEALTH EDUCATION | News Services

ECU health sciences prepare its graduates to lead the rural workforce

The college and schools on East Carolina University’s Health Sciences Campus share a mission produce top-notch health care professionals to serve North Carolina.

A key component of that commitment is innovation in delivering education and patient care in the most rural and underserved communities, as well as rural health-focused courses, field work, research and programs that emphasize the need for better access across the state

ECU’s innovative rural health focused education is taking place across North Carolina, from nursing students caring for Alzheimer’s disease patients in the East to the rotations dental students complete community service learning centers in the mountainous western portion of the state.

Here’s a look at how the colleges and schools on ECU’s Health Sciences Campus are addressing North Carolina’s rural health care needs and challenges through education.

College of Allied Health Sciences

In the College of Allied Health Sciences, patient care includes valuable learning experiences for students on how to provide care in rural settings and for patients from rural communities. Rural health care is central to the school’s mission.

“Our students learn about the importance of transforming health care, promoting wellness and increasing access to health care for the people of eastern North Carolina,” said Dr. Leigh Cellucci, associate dean for academic affairs. “Students spend time with patients and clients from rural areas. They learn firsthand the importance of access to health care.”

Bilingual and Mexican-American Graduate Assistant Rocio Vega enrolls a patient into the Fresh Start program at the W.A.T.C.H. Clinic in Goldsboro, North Carolina. (Contributed photo)

ECU’s College of Allied Health Sciences is North Carolina’s largest allied health sciences college at a four-year institution. It has a fall 2022 enrollment of 1,481 students and boasts more than 10,000 alumni. Close to 75% of its graduates remain in North Carolina to work, with more than half of those working or living in eastern North Carolina.

The school’s clinics, including the Speech Language and Hearing Clinic, the student-run Physical Therapy Clinic, the new dtudent-run Occupational Therapy Clinic, and the Navigate Counseling Clinic see patients from rural areas of eastern North Carolina. Other initiatives created in the college are aimed at addressing health care challenges for special populations.

Rural health is a key component across the school’s departments in order to prepare students for careers anywhere they are needed.

“It is of critical importance that small hospitals in eastern North Carolina employ highly-qualified clinical laboratory science professionals to work in their labs to provide better health care,” said Dr. Guyla Evans, chair of the Department of Clinical Laboratory Science. “The people of eastern North Carolina deserve this, and we accomplish this.”

Dr. Paul Bell, professor in the Department of Health Services and Information Management, said preparing students through curriculum and experience will enable them to better understand the importance of access in improving health care services.

“Health care administrators serve an important supportive role to ensure better health for the people who live in our rural communities, and our understanding that access to primary care, particularly preventive care, will improve our health is central to our mission of transforming health care delivery,” he said.

Physician Assistant Studies student Allision Priest said the college not only prepares students but provides them invaluable resources to assist patients that will be relevant into their future careers.

“(Our faculty are) not only inspiring us to work in those rural fields, but they’re also giving us resources to be able to help the people that are living in those places,” Priest said. “We’re really diving deep into health inequities and understanding food deserts.”

The Brody School of Medicine

The East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine educates students about the obstacles patients in underresourced must overcome to receive health care.

“The majority of the counties in this state are rural, so if we are going to proclaim to improve the health status of eastern North Carolina we have to be prepared to do so in a rural environment,” said Dr. Matthew A. Rushing, family medicine clinical assistant professor and assistant residency director.

The school values recruiting mission-fit students with a rural background, experience with underserved populations and a track record of community and service engagement.

Brody medical students learn in the Clinical Simulation Lab.

Brody medical students learn in the Clinical Simulation Lab. (ECU Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Brody is over the 90th percentile nationally in graduates practicing in rural areas with 12% of graduates practicing compared to a national median of 4%, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges Mission Management Tool. Brody also has the highest retention of graduates practicing in rural North Carolina counties five years after graduation among other medical schools in the state, according to the Sheps Center report on 2022 Outcomes of NC Medical School Graduates.

With more Brody graduates practicing in the state than any other medical school it is a testimony to the school’s mission, Rushing said.

“This work is more than important — it’s necessary, and this is where Brody education truly shines,” Rushing said.

Training for service in rural areas starts as early as the first year of medical school for Brody students, with a series of standardized patients whose stories are set in the rural communities of eastern North Carolina that first-year students encounter as they learn to conduct patient interviews as a first step in diagnosing patients.

First and second-year Brody students are offered a course on Society, Culture and Health Systems that included a research project that focused on county health systems. Students gathered data on one county health system and population, used the data to examine the county’s COVID-19 response, and developed and answered a research question related to the health system as it related to course concepts.

“The purpose of this project is to bring the topics and concepts covered in our course to life a real and local way,” said Dr. Sheena Eagan, course director and assistant professor. “The project highlights the vast differences between rural, urban and suburban counties, reinforcing the idea that counties can be adjacent and yet have vastly different health systems contributing to disparities in health status.”

The course helps students examine the barriers to optimal health that residents face in rural North Carolina.

“Students examine the health care systems currently in place and determine if there are better ways to deliver quality health care to populations that are in these settings,” said Dr. Cedric Bright, interim vice dean and associate dean for admissions.

Second-year students also examine how to better address the lack of access from hospitals closing as well as private practices, and how that impacts preventive medicine and population health.

As they move into the third and fourth years, Brody’s Family Medicine Clerkship places students in community clinics where they see first-hand how rural physicians care for their patients. Students on their Family Medicine and Pediatric clerkship rotations spend up to half of their training in a rural, community setting. Medical students are assessed on their ability to communicate with patients in a caring, compassionate, and effective manner.

Students choose from elective courses to gain exposure to a variety of medical specialties and explore individual interests. Students can participate in an elective led by BSOM faculty to serve rural communities in Zambia, which allows students to serve the needs of an international community. Students can also complete a combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Acting Internship at ECU Health Duplin Hospital or ECU Health Edgecombe Hospital.

“Rural medicine requires an element of ingenuity — patients living in rural areas have health care needs that are shaped by the resources they are (or aren’t) able to access easily in their communities,” said Emmalee Todd, a third-year medical student. “Even for those of us who will end up at large tertiary-care centers, understanding what goes into rural medicine can help us better serve patients coming from those areas.”

In the fall of 2021, Brody and ECU Health Medical Center, formerly Vidant Medical Center, launched a new Rural Family Medicine Residency Program to equip physicians with specialized training in caring for patients in rural and underserved communities.

Residents spend a majority of their first year of training at ECU Health Medical Center and ECU’s Family Medicine Center in Greenville before spending the next two years training in rural health care centers in eastern North Carolina.

The complete Brody experience provides an integrated curriculum focused on health systems science for all four years, adding to students’ foundation for practicing rural health by using an authentic, embedded approach to patient safety, population health and team-based care.

“Ultimately, we hope that from this curriculum, the next generation of leaders will arise to meet the needs of the people in eastern North Carolina,” Bright said. 

Department of Public Health

The Department of Public Health at the Brody School of Medicine provides a strong foundation of understanding the challenges of rural health.

“The needs of rural people are distinctly different than those in urban or more urban communities,” said associate professor Dr. Ruth Little. “In order to successfully facilitate rural health improvements, this population has to be first understood.”

The department requires Master of Public Health students to take a course on Interdisciplinary Rural Health, which includes topics from the concentrations of epidemiology, health policy and leadership and community health and health behavior.

“In epidemiology, we lay the groundwork for rural and urban comparisons, ultimately demonstrating that for many health indicators rural communities suffer a higher burden of disease than their more urban counterparts,” said Dr. Nancy Winterbauer, associate professor. “In health policy and leadership, we examine reasons for these disparities, including the impact of race, access to health services and policy on rural health. Finally, the community health and health behavior concentration focuses on rural health improvement, especially in the areas of health behavior, community engagement and advocacy, evidence-based interventions and public health practice.”

All these factors simultaneously cause higher incidence of chronic illnesses and poor health outcomes. That is why it is so critical we learn about these issues, how rural health care systems are working to address them and urge more public health practitioners and health care providers to serve them.

– Brandon Stroud, ECU public health student

Little said rural communities in the East have a bleaker health outlook than the regions in the middle and western portions of the state.

“It’s important to help our students not only understand this, but in addressing these health disparities, engage students with rural communities, providing opportunities for us to work together to improve population health,” Little said.

Student Brandon Stroud said the curriculum in rural health is preparing him to be able to think critically to solve problems in rural communities.

“Often, these counties have a much lower median income compared to their urban counterparts, there are fewer healthy food resources, recreational spaces, less health care providers and limited access to specialty care,” he said. “All these factors simultaneously cause higher incidence of chronic illnesses and poor health outcomes. That is why it is so critical we learn about these issues, how rural health care systems are working to address them and urge more public health practitioners and health care providers to serve them.”

The College of Nursing

ECU’s College of Nursing graduates close to 79% of nurses employed in North Carolina, with 39% serving eastern North Carolina. Nearly 60 graduates chose to work in one of the state’s 40 most distressed counties, as designated by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

Specific nursing courses and programs encourage students to gain exposure to health care settings where they will care for patients from every life situation.

“In community health, we ensure that our students are prepared to take care of patients in all environments,” said Lesha Rouse, clinical instructor. “In this course, the student will complete a community service learning project (CSLP), expanding perspectives of ‘health care’ from the individual, acute care focus to a population-, community-based focus.”

Nursing students at every level receive instruction and experience caring for patients in rural settings.

Nursing students listen to instructions during the standardized patient training.

Nursing students listen to instructions during the standardized patient training. (ECU photo by Rhett Butler)

“Students are training in a number of ways, including traditional lecture and course content as well as through experiential and simulated learning,” said assistant professor Dr. Stephanie Hart. “This is particularly important relative to practice in rural areas, where students are exposed to the realities of the social determinants of health — the primary drivers of population health outcomes.”

Hart said undergraduate students prepare to enter clinical rotations in rural areas by learning about the social determinants of health and the unique needs of rural communities.

“They build upon their knowledge of rural health through their participation in a windshield survey of an eastern North Carolina county, which provides them with the opportunity to drive around the county making observations of community members and their environment,” she said. “From there, they continue to explore these communities in detail through review of the county community health needs assessment and engaging with community members and key stakeholders to gather insight into community strengths and needs.”

The majority of undergraduate students, including those in traditional BSN and accelerated BSN programs, complete an 85-hour clinical rotation in community health or community-based settings to further add to their experience in rural areas.

“They are able to successfully integrate into the clinical learning environment, where they not only learn more about the unique needs of the individuals and communities served by these agencies, but they are afforded several opportunities to apply course objectives in practice,” Hart said.

She added that ECU’s College of Nursing and one of its partnering clinical agencies, 3HC Home Health and Hospice Care, Inc., received funding from the Hospice and Home Care Foundation of North Carolina to participate in a pilot project designed to address the shortage of home care nurses across North Carolina, particularly in rural areas.

“This project resulted in new approaches regarding the training, recruitment and integration of newly graduated RNs (registered nurses) into home health and hospice agencies,” Hart said.

The college has also received funding from Eastern AHEC for the last several years to develop new clinical training sites for nursing students, most of which are situated within rural, underserved Tier 1 or Tier 2 counties.

Hart said these programs and curricula offer students exposure to prepare them to work in those same settings as professionals.

“When we train health care professions students to work with and understand community health and rural health care, we aim to eliminate these gaps by facilitating recruitment and retention efforts of health care professionals in rural areas, reduce workforce shortages and increase diversity in our workforce,” she said.

The college also has a Health Resources and Services Advanced Nursing Education Workforce grant that allows the college to train a select number of advanced practice registered nurse students to care for patients in rural and underserved areas, including patients who are farmers, loggers and fishers — occupations prevalent to North Carolina that also present industry-specific health hazards. The program, APRN Rural and Underserved Roadmap to Advance Leadership (RURAL) Scholars Program, includes a graduate-level course in agromedicine with practical experiences with the farming community.

“Students are provided generous stipends to participate in the program, which includes instruction in rural health and health disparities, clinical practice in rural and underserved communities and training in telehealth and telepsychiatry,” said Dr. Pamela Reis, associate professor and interim Ph.D. program director in the College of Nursing.

So far, 47 students have graduated from the program and are providing care in these communities across North Carolina; there are 17 students in the current cohort.

Dr. Michelle Skipper, director of the doctor of nursing practice program, said educating nurse practitioners to the needs of rural patients is critical for the transformation of the region’s health care delivery.

“We can recruit nurses from rural communities, train them as primary care clinicians, and return them for long-term service to the community which already trusts them,” Skipper said. “Receiving care from a nurse practitioner is ultimately an ideal choice in small towns, not simply a ‘consolation prize’ because other health care professionals don’t want to live and work there.”

Dr. Donna Roberson, professor and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, Carolina Geriatric Workforce Enhancement program grant, said it is crucial to educate nurses about the aging population and some of the diseases that are more prevalent among older adults.

“As our eastern North Carolina citizens age, their risk for dementias like Alzheimer’s Disease increase,” she said. “Most are living in their communities and are cared for by family caregivers. Their health care providers (medical doctors, nurse practitioners and more) need to have a good understanding of what the person living with dementia experiences and what their family has to manage.”

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Black Health Education Collaborative develops primer for Black health curriculum

A group of prominent Black health researchers in Canada have come together to provide Black health education for health professionals and students.

The first module from the Black Health Education Collaborative (BHEC) will be available to students next year. The resource serves as a foundation for all health professionals on critical information about Black health in Canada.

“Due to the racial disparities amplified in this pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, there is a greater awareness of anti-Black racism and its impacts on health,” says Onye Nnoroman assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and one of the BHEC’s three co-leads.

“The increase in public consciousness has been a silver lining in a very terrible storm that has been all of our lives for the last 18 months or more.”

Nnorom initiated the project with other prominent Black health leaders in Canada a few years after she became the Black health lead at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine’s MD Program, where she was cross-appointed.

She was eager to develop a health primary but was short on resources.

“I needed to know what the standards are, what needs to be on exams – otherwise I’m kind of just decorating here,” Nnorom says.

While the Black student population in both the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health has grown in recent years, Nnorom says the curriculum is still missing critical inclusions related to Black health. For example, she says Canadian medical education still uses data from the United States – with no Canadian context – and often focuses on chronic disease prevalence among Black people.

“Students are given the impression that there is something cultural, some knowledge lacking or some other deficit with the marginalized community as to why they have disparities – as opposed to understanding that these are rooted in structural racism and oppression,” Nnorom says.

OmiSoore Dryden

Nnorom teamed up with Associate Professor OmiSoore Dryden, the James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University, to provide insights into social determinants of health and their impact on Black health and academic critical race theory. Together, they formed a national group to consult on health primaries.

A proposal was drafted in 2018, and consultations followed a year later with medical and public health students and scholars. The group built enough material to make its case, presenting at webinars and workshops. Members met sporadically to solidify their pitch. That’s until the pandemic hit and the work was forced to take a short pause.

But the Black Lives Matter demonstrations following George Floyd’s death spurred a renewed demand for a primary.

The group finished what they started.

“Working with my colleagues allowed us to pool our resources and our expertise in Black studies, critical race theory, health, clinical practices, public health and medical education,” says Dryden. “Working together during the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, and the impact the pandemic has had on our communities, allowed us to minimize our isolation while sharing resources.”

BHEC welcomed its first executive director in August. Dalla Lana Assistant Professor Sume Ndumbe-Eyoh‘s new role is a continuation of her decade-long journey to understand social determinants of health across Canada. Now, she has the opportunity to focus exclusively on Black health with a national scope.

Sume Ndumbe-Eyoh

“Focusing on health equity and social determinants of health just felt like a natural space to be in because I’ve always understood health as something which exists beyond disease and which has really shaped me,” Ndumbe-Eyoh says.

“If you’re going to medical school right now, that should be part of what you’re learning. If you’re going through a school of public health, that should be included as part of what you’ll study. We should not have folks graduating who do not understand that racism affects health and who don’t have the skills to address anti-Black racism.”

Born and raised in Cameroon, Ndumbe-Eyoh says she noticed the disconnect between public health messaging and the realities she and her friends were living through. A popular campaign in Cameroon got her interested in public health programs and interventions. At Dalla Lana, she studied the social dimensions of HIV/AIDS in public health.

Ndumbe-Eyoh says that mainstream media have finally taken notice of an issue activists like herself have been pushing to advance for many years.

“I think the public consciousness, at least for white folks, appears to be shifting,” says Ndumbe-Eyoh. “I say ‘appears’ because I have many question marks around that. I think for those of us who’ve been doing this work for a while, the work is always ongoing. What I’ve seen shift is that more mainstream organizations are probably creating space for Black-led work on anti-Black racism.”

Ndumbe-Eyoh hopes health professionals will also be given some insight into the complexities Black community members face given their diverse experiences, social backgrounds, genders and incomes. As part of her first months in her role, Ndumbe-Eyoh is eager to lay out the foundations of Black Health to medical students.

BHEC is also developing a continuing professional development program for clinicians and health practitioners.

“We will be developing resources to support faculty development. In the last year, a lot of folks are being pulled into teaching about anti-racism and Black health who need a community of practice,” says Ndumbe-Eyoh.

Ndumbe-Eyoh’s office will develop resources to support faculty with the assistance of researchers in the community who can offer some research and practical perspectives in teaching anti-racism.

The program began with seed funding of $1.7 million, with support from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine. BHEC is seeking more funding to expand its work to include mentorship, a community of practice for scholars and educators, publications and providing research and training.

“It is my hope that our work influences the culture of medical education through new structures that specifically address Black health and wellness,” says Dryden. “I hope that health learners will develop the skills necessary to provide appropriate care to Black and African Nova Scotian communities across the country. And it is my hope that health educators will develop and update their skills to better equip our health learners.”