February 28, 2016

World Health Organization Partners With Cornell to Create Public Health Policy

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The World Health Organization has designated Cornell University’s division of nutritional sciences a collaborating center — the organization will partner with the University on the creation and implementation of the public health policy, the University announced last week.

Cornell will be one of over 700 WHO collaborating centers in over eighty countries working on areas such as nursing, occupational health, nutrition and health technologies, according to the WHO website.

This four-year long partnership will further Cornell’s involvement with the WHO, going beyond the current collaboration, which includes the “Summer Institute for Systematic Reviews in Nutrition for Global Policy Making” — a two-week training program for policy makers that was launched in 2014.

“The WHO Center will provide opportunities for Cornell faculty and their students to be more directly involved in assisting the World Health Organizations meet the needs of the member states of the United Nations who seek policy guidance based on rigorous scientific research and evidence evaluation,” said Patrick Stover, director and professor of nutritional sciences.

Stover indicated that the University’s role in the partnership will center around addressing issues of global public health.

“Cornell will provide to WHO, as needed, both the substantive content and technical expertise in areas of nutrition and global public health,” Stover said.

The collaboration center will build upon a decades-long history of partnership between the WHO and Cornell’s division of nutritional sciences. Many faculty members have served on WHO expert committees, consulted on technical issues, assisted in the preparation of systematic reviews of scientific evidence and authored technical and policy briefs, according to Stover.

Stover added that he has been highly impressed with the WHO and their “unwavering commitment to improving the public health of all populations and nations.”
“Working with the WHO has always been intellectually stimulating and professionally rewarding — they provide opportunities for scientists to have [a] real impact that reaches and benefits global populations,” Stover said.

  • In order to be successful, apart from political will and resources, the overarching goal for “improving health of whole populations” requires proper theoretical framework. Unlike healthcare (interventions on individuals) policies are interventions on populations where distribution of the benefit is an important factor influencing the outcomes, Panayotov (2008), see “HIA: Is sustainable well-being possible without health equity?”, presentation at 9th International HIA Conference, Liverpool, UK, October 2008, available here https://icare.academia.edu/JordanPanayotov

    My paper “The Role of Average Health Status – Health Inequalities Matrix for Assessing Impacts on Population Health in Health in All Policies” provides a gold standard for assessing impacts on health and offers solution for problems with evidence, introducing “Validity of Evidence” for interventions on populations, thus is a valuable tool for designing and evaluating all kinds of policies.
    Open access available here https://goo.gl/3xKAb6