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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Christopher J Murray
G H 515
Seattle Campus

Global Health Challenges

Introduces principal health problems of the world's populations, and major challenges to improving health globally. Explores interdisciplinary factors accounting for health patterns, ranging from either physiological basis to their economic, social, and political context. Prerequisite: either BIOST 511, BIOST 512, and BIOST 513, or BIOST 517 and BIOST 518, or equivalent; either EPI 511 or both EPI 512 and EPI 513. Offered: A.

Class description

This course introduces the principal health problems of the world's populations, and the major challenges to improving health at a global level. It is an inter-disciplinary exploration of the factors that account for these health patterns, ranging from their physiological basis to their economic, social and political context. Topics include: infectious diseases, injuries, risk factors, health system performance, and the role of international agencies in shaping the landscape of global health policy. Throughout the course, a heavy emphasis is placed on what we know and how we know about global health problems.

Student learning goals

Analyze systematically the evidence presented in published research on global health problems, potential solutions, system barriers and political/economic dimensions

Discuss the major causes of disease burden, the pattern and variability in health issues around the globe, as well as think critically about the magnitude and complex nature of global health challenges and ways to address them

Display knowledge of the world’s most significant diseases, including their causes, symptoms, treatment, prevention, and associated risk factors

Elaborate on specific topics such as: defining and quantifying health, measuring mortality and trends in adult and child mortality, diseases and risk factors in populations, the epidemiological transition, health inequalities, framework for health systems performance assessment, financing of health care

Evaluate the effectiveness of health programs, systems and reforms in order to be able to argue what could work or not in health systems

Compare the relative merits and effectiveness of the possible solutions to specific health system problems in terms of outcomes

General method of instruction

Instruction for this course is a combination of two lectures per week, plus a one hour quiz section facilitated by the course teaching assistant.

Recommended preparation

BIOST 512/513 or BIOST 517/518, and EPI 511 or EPI 512/513

Class assignments and grading

There will be required weekly problem sets for the course. Problem sets will be graded on a scale of 1(worst) to 5 (best), with a 0 grade if no problem set is turned in.

A policy brief is required for completion of this course. The policy brief asks students to argue a health policy recommendation that is supported by clear empirical evidence.

Problem sets (10%), class participation (10%), an in-class midterm (20%), a policy brief (25%), and a final (35%).


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Sean P Lassiter
Date: 04/15/2009