University of Guyana Master of Public Health Programme

While this grant has ended, it remains foundational for capacity building initiatives at VIGH.

Supported by a two-year grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), educators from the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health worked with partners from the University of Guyana, the Guyana Ministry of Health, and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) to design and implement the first MPH program in Guyana. The addition of an MPH degree will increase Guyana’s public health capacity and epidemiological expertise, which will ultimately enhance the country’s ability to lead and manage the response to various public health challenges.

The only English-speaking nation in South America, the Republic of Guyana is a lower-middle-income country located on the continent’s northeastern coast. Major health priorities include reducing levels of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, improving maternal and child health, and controlling the rise in non-communicable diseases. Guyana currently has no baccalaureate or master-level degree programs in public health, and its health system struggles to retain trained medical personnel.

The University of Guyana is located in the country’s capital city of Georgetown and enrolls more than 5,000 students pursuing degrees in 60 undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

UG, VU, & UCSF team members

Vanderbilt University has been actively engaged with partners in Guyana for several years. In 2010, the Vanderbilt Department of Emergency Medicine assisted Georgetown Public Hospital in establishing the country’s first emergency medicine training program, and has provided regular opportunities for Vanderbilt residents and fellows to engage in clinical rotations there. Additionally, the Vanderbilt Center for Latin American Studies’ Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) has surveyed democracy and security issues in Guyana since 2006.

“We are excited about working with our colleagues in Guyana to establish this MPH program,” said Douglas Heimburger, M.D., M.S., co-Principal Investigator and associate director at the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health. “Guyana’s severe shortage of trained public health professionals presents major challenges to managing, sustaining, and advancing systemic structures for control of communicable and non-communicable diseases. The MPH program will bolster Guyana’s national public health capacity, and Vanderbilt is honored to offer expertise in terms of program design and management, and curriculum development. Applying for this grant was a natural for us because of the years of collaborative relationships built in Guyana by the Vanderbilt Department of Emergency Medicine.” Vanderbilt’s MPH program has offered degrees in Epidemiology since 1995, and expanded to welcome its first cohort of students in the Global Health track fall 2013.

University of Guyana, VU, and UCSF faculty working on the MPH curriculum
To address needs specific to the health system in Guyana, the MPH program is being designed by Guyanese health professionals and educators with support and input from partners at Vanderbilt and UCSF. In addition to didactic coursework in epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and public health management, field practicum training will emphasize clinical epidemiology, surveillance, and applied public health. The project’s sustainability will be reinforced through the creation of a detailed strategy for fully transitioning the program to the University of Guyana Faculty of Health Sciences at the end of the grant. The program aims to graduate at least 10 students annually, and will incorporate approaches for national public health career development and retention.

“This is a major initiative for developing our capacity for analyzing, planning and managing the health sector and is absolutely essential if we are going to succeed in creating a healthy nation” said Dr. Madan Rambaran, MBBS, MSc, co-Principal Investigator and founder and director of the Institute of Health Science Education at the Georgetown (Guyana) Public Hospital.

For information on the Programme, curriculum, and application process, please visit:

The University of Guyana MPH Programme