Hebrew University Alumni at the Front Lines: Combatting COVID-19 Worldwide

Zoom Image IMPH

The Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine’s International Master of Public Health (IMPH) currently has over 900 alumni worldwide, and maintains an active alumni network.

Holding key positions across the globe, IMPH alumni are truly at the front lines of the pandemic, as they are involved in setting national or local policies, planning, coordinating, and providing health services, as well as developing other responses to the Coronavirus crisis. Many of these alumni reached out to their alma mater for professional advice and guidance. 

In response, the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School, in partnership with MASHAV (Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), launched the BRAUN-MASHAV Global COVID-19 Forum

To date, 12 webinars have taken place, featuring Israeli and international public health practitioners and researchers who share their experiences, successes and challenges fighting COVID-19. In addition, participants have the opportunity to ask questions, share their experiences, and network. 

Approximately 40 alumni, representing 15 countries, participate in each session. These have included members of the national task forces in Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria; World Health Organization officials from Sierra Leone and North Macedonia; and other alumni in decision-making capacities in Albania, Honduras, Columbia, Ethiopia, and Norway/Afghanistan – among others.

"I'm proud to say that Israel is at the forefront of providing immediate response in the wake of humanitarian crises, strengthening its commitment as a member of the family of nations. We have done so in the past, we are doing it today, and we will do it whenever and wherever our assistance is needed."

        Amb. Gil Haskel, Head of MASHAV

The BRAUN-MASHAV Global COVID-19 Forum has focused on a variety of topics, including mental health services, food security, personal protection with a focus on masks, cyber-surveillance, protecting vulnerable populations, virus sequencing to understand variations, smoking behavior and tobacco control, and aging populations, among others.

"Each week we are reminded of how much we can learn from one other, and how much we are dependent on one another to tackle this global public health crisis."

          Professor Yehuda Neumark, Director of the Braun School

The most recent webinar, which focused on screening strategies that would permit the safe re-opening of college campuses, was delivered by Prof. David Paltiel of Yale University and Prof. Rochelle Walensky of Harvard University. They offered participants a mathematical model for testing and isolating, to keep infections under control. This included sharing an online calculator into which participants can plug in their own data, adjusting for the number of students, compliance levels, the frequency and accuracy of tests – and more. Ultimately, Prof. Paltiel and Prof. Walensky concluded that frequency trumps accuracy; frequent testing would compensate for any false negatives, while also quickly locating and isolating infected students before the virus could spread out of control.

"Thank you for the presentation, amazing insights into the importance of testing in the “new normal."

    IMPH alumna from North Macedonia