MIAMI (September 27, 2016) — To fulfill a critical need in global health policy research and advocacy, the University of Miami and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), have signed a memorandum of understanding to take the first steps toward establishing a policy research initiative. The special agreement will allow experts at UM’s Department of Public Health Sciences to further the scientific knowledge of global health policy in areas of HIV/AIDS, Zika and other hemispheric emerging public health threats.
The memorandum of understanding was signed at a special ceremony on Tuesday, September 27.
“As a significant participant in international healthcare outreach, UM is honored to partner with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, to further global health policy research,” said Steven M. Altschuler, M.D., Senior Vice President for Health Affairs and CEO of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System. “We enter this partnership with the hope and intention that this Policy Research Initiative with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation will be dedicated to improving the health and well-being of the people of the Americas.”
The policy research program will be led by UM’s Public Health Sciences Department and will help establish unbiased and objective information to guide informed health advocacy in our hemisphere.
“Our role as public health scientists is to generate knowledge that can swiftly translate into public health solutions,” said Jose Szapocznik, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences.
“As Miami is the epicenter of the HIV epidemic in the U.S. and ground zero for local and travel-related Zika transmissions, UM’s public health researchers and physician-scientists are uniquely positioned to apply expertise to investigate related health policy issues.”
AHF President Michael Weinstein mentioned that the domestic, hemispheric and global experience as well as the lessons learned during more than 30 years in the fight against HIV/AIDS, need now to be used to benefit other public health concerns when analyzing, developing, reforming and implementing policies.
“The fight against HIV caused a revolution in advocacy, policy care and treatment,” said Weinstein. “It is time now to start building bricks, generating and gathering the evidence for a similar public health revolution as well. We at AHF are very pleased to start collaborating and contributing, together with the University of Miami, on setting up the foundations of a potential Center for Global Public Health Policy.”
“Civil society, communities and key affected populations have been the key drivers on how AIDS changed everything,” said Jorge Saavedra M.D., AHF’s Global Public Health Ambassador and former head of the National AIDS Center of Mexico. “Therefore, when analyzing public health policies, these factors also need to be included into the equation and considered in all its potentiality for improving domestic, hemispheric and global public health policies; with new looming diseases such as Zika, it is essential to move science into practice and policy as quickly–or more quickly—than the spread of the epidemics.”