On Sunday 22nd August 2021, the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE), a global health sciences institution based in Rwanda, will graduate twenty-three students from its Master’s in Science for Global Health Delivery (MGHD) flagship program. Representing a broad range of interdisciplinary backgrounds and academic experience, this sixth MGHD cohort is notably diverse, with students hailing from twelve countries globally including Rwanda, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kenya, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Liberia.
The MGHD’21 Commencement represents the culmination of an intensive year at UGHE, with learning centered on quality, innovation and science. The master’s curriculum deliberately knits together the often-siloed areas of global health, including research development, epidemiology, implementation science, One Health, gender equity, history, anthropology, entrepreneurship, leadership, and business management, ensuring its graduates become holistic thinkers and changemakers. UGHE’s position in the rural north of Rwanda affords students the opportunity to learn from and live among Burera District communities which, in turn, helps them critically examine the challenges faced by the communities they live in, through cultural, historical and societal analysis.
“We are proud of our students, whom we have equipped with the knowledge and skills to be among the leaders who will help transform the world and promote the conditions for equitable, quality, and holistic health service delivery for all. The world needs such global health experts, especially today given the current global situation, with climate change leading to natural disasters such as heat waves, droughts, floods, and forest fires. These natural disasters have several consequences, among others, increased hunger and malnutrition, mass displacement, a more precarious situation for the lives of vulnerable people, and increased risks for illness such as those linked to poor management of environmental, animal, and human health that we have seen with COVID-19 and its catastrophic global consequences. All of these facts are rolling back gains in population health outcomes, and our students are equipped to stop and reverse this trend. “— Prof. Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor, University of Global Health Equity
In alignment with robust national measures to curb COVID-19 transmission, UGHE was pleased to offer learning in a blended learning format, combining online training via a sophisticated e-learning platform, COVID-19 compliant field visits, and dynamic classroom study leveraging the state-of-the-art facilities on campus. With authorization from the Government of Rwanda, Butaro Campus remained open and operational during the pandemic thanks to robust prevention measures enforced onsite, ensuring critical learning continued uninterrupted. Like their alumni predecessors, this year’s intake benefited from tailored training from UGHE’s network of world-class faculty, as well as well as community and faith-based leaders, community health workers and, of course, their diverse cohort.
“The role of our students as the future’s global health change-makers is now more critical than ever as emerging diseases have and continue to threaten the lives of the most vulnerable. Our students leave with the resolute commitment and competency to provide an equitable voice for the historically unvoiced and underserved, and the educational tools to fulfil this challenging, yet pivotal role in the development and innovation of global health systems.” — Prof. Abebe Bekele, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academic & Research Affairs, University of Global Health Equity
UGHE’s educational mission, and its growing network of alumni, is more vital than ever. The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately impacted vulnerable populations globally, exacerbated shortages of trained health professionals, and highlighted the need for increased research and manufacturing capacity in low-and middle-income countries to bolster development of life-saving drugs, equipment and now, vaccines. Educating the next generation of compassionate health leaders, skilled clinicians, innovative researchers, scientists, and implementers is critical to driving this forward. This year’s graduates depart UGHE equipped with the needed skills and expertise to not only repair inequitable health systems, but also to strengthen them, leveraging firsthand learning from Rwanda’s successful crisis response.
“We have always prepared ourselves to react according to the science of the day and the need to keep our working teams galvanised to navigate new territory and to always serve our students, employees, contractors and the surrounding community with quality, security, while keeping them safe. During the last year and half, UGHE has constantly evaluated and responded to each challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have continuously thought innovatively about organisational structure, supporting all of us so that we could thrive in the face of global uncertainty by planning with a delicate balance for equitable solutions for immediate positive outcomes for all, while securing the future. We are proud to have done it and to have secured continuous authorisation for UGHE to remain safely operational with quality and equity as our guides.” — Rogers Muragije, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administrative and Financial Affairs, University of Global Health Equity
In respect of COVID-19 measures, this year’s Commencement will be the second to take place virtually, welcoming friends, families, and supporters of the graduates to celebrate the significant milestones this cohort has achieved despite uncertain global circumstances. A small event will take place on campus.
UGHE are honored to welcome an esteemed line-up of speakers to the ceremony, the elected student representatives, the Hon. Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Ngamije, the Hon. Minister of Education, Dr. Valentine Uwamariya, and a keynote address from Dr John Nkengasong currently serves as the first Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
UGHE’s Chancellor, Dr. Paul Farmer, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Agnes Binagwaho, the Dean of the School of Medicine and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Academic & Research Affairs, Prof. Abebe Bekele, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Administrative & Financial Affairs, Rogers Muragije, Dr. Rex Wong, Associate Professor and Director, Bill and Joyce Cummings Institute of Global Health will also speak to audiences within the ceremony.
Now, at a time when their skills are needed most, they enter a new chapter as global health leaders, eager to apply their learnings and enact fundamental change in their respective communities, and around the world to contribute to create resilient health delivery system. They join an MGHD alumni network of leaders who situate the institution at the forefront of a collective struggle to advance health equity and accelerate the dissemination of discovery and innovation in global health.
UGHE looks forward to welcoming a new intake of master’s students this September representing 13 countries globally, who will continue to drive forward this mission.