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Public health delegation from Uzbekistan visits UB

UB representatives pose with visitors from Uzbekistan.

Representatives from the School of Public Health and Health Professions, including Dean Jean Wactawski-Wende (far left) pose with members of the delegation from Uzbekistan. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki


Published February 13, 2024


Uzbekistan, a landlocked central Asian country with a population of close to 36 million, has public health in its sights. That much was clear when four Uzbek scientists and doctors arrived for an information-gathering session at the School of Public Health and Health Professions on Feb. 1.

The group, in the middle of a whirlwind tour of key organizations in the United States, is picking the brains of the country’s top public health professionals in advance of developing Uzbekistan’s national public health capabilities. After stops in Washington, D.C., and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the group made its way to Buffalo — happily in the middle of a winter heat wave — to discuss possibilities for learning and collaboration with SPHHP experts. The visit was arranged through the International Institute of Buffalo and local health leaders.

The first stop was UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, where CTSI director and SUNY Distinguished Professor Timothy F. Murphy, and Teresa Quattrin, UB Distinguished Professor, associate dean for research integration and CTSI recruitment and special populations core director, outlined the work of the CTSI and discussed public-private partnerships for improving health nationwide. Quattrin had a leading role in coordinating the UB visit.

Stephen Turkovich, president and chief medical officer of John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital, also addressed the group.

Next, the group headed to the School of Public Health and Health Professions. Speaking through an interpreter, Rafail Ibragimov, leading specialist of the Sanitary and Epidemiological Welfare and Public Health Committee at the Uzbek Ministry of Health, explained that Uzbekistan’s government has been funding public health efforts for some time now. But the country’s “Health 2030” strategic plan proposes to increase its level of support and ultimately develop a stand-alone school of public health and CDC-like organization.

Jean Wactawski-Wende, dean of SPHHP, described how the school addresses regional and global health challenges. Topics included a range of community partnerships, SPHHP’s public health educational training programs, and local and global research collaborations.

Lina Mu, associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health; director of UB’s Office of Global Health Initiatives; and convenor of the meeting, emphasized that collaborations for training students and research projects were definitely an opportunity to explore. Like any networkers worth their salt, the Uzbek and SPHHP groups exchanged contact details to “further the conversation,” said Wactawski-Wende.

Jacobs school representatives pose with visitors from Uzbekistan.

Public health leaders from Uzbekistan also spent time at the Clinical and Translational Research Center during their visit.

The visitors’ final UB stop was the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, where Alan Lesse, associate dean for medical curriculum, gave a brief overview of the Jacobs School curriculum. There was then a visit to the Gross Anatomy Lab, where Stuart Inglis, laboratory director, explained the importance of learning anatomy from human cadavers as compared to virtual reality.

The group spent two more days in Buffalo, meeting with officials from the Erie County and New York State health departments, the Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network and the Maternal Health Coalition.