Prof René English has been elected as a member of the Subcommittee on Masters and Undergraduate Degrees in Global Health (SMUDGH) of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH).
"SMUDGH forms part of CUGH's Education Committee. This subcommittee analyses trends and innovations in curricula design, teaching and experiential learning for undergraduate, masters and doctoral degree programmes in global health. A key part of its activities is to assist universities to design and implement good quality undergraduate and postgraduate global health programmes," explains English.
This is important, she adds, as the Department of Global Health and Division of Health Systems and Public Health within Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) has identified Global Health as an important discipline.
"This Department has developed and continues to develop a range of global health courses at postgraduate level. The aim is to incorporate aspects of global health in the undergraduate curriculum, and to ensure that students are able to 'think global and act local'," she adds.
When asked about what this appointment means to her on a personal level, English said that she was very excited to be part of this very important sub-committee, which is led by Kathryn H. Jacobsen from the George Mason University (United States) and Caryl Waggett from Allegheny College (United States), who are both very experienced in this field.
"I hope to ensure that the group considers global health using a uniquely southern African lens."
She hopes to be able to contribute in this regard, as she is the only member of this sub-committee who is from sub-Saharan Africa.
"I do hope that the learning and the work of this group will strengthen the university's programmes, and will also influence the international debate regarding teaching and learning in this field," she says.
English became the head of the Division of Health Systems and Public Health at the FMHS in 2019. Her career has been distinguished: she is a medical doctor, and has specialised in public health. She holds both a MMed and a doctorate in her field. For the latter degree, she studied the validity of a respiratory guideline for nurses in South Africa, of which many of the recommendations have since become national policy.
She served on the South African Health Ministerial Task Team for Human Resources for Health, and was also the Chair of the Information, Monitoring and Evaluation Workstream. She has served on the South African Lancet National Commission on High Quality Health Systems.
Photo credit: Wilma Stassen