Forging the Future of Global Health Education: Lukas Selected for Education Committees within the Consortium of Universities for Global Health
Published on 17 October 2022
Through international partnerships, work with underserved populations, graduate degree and certificate programs in global health, and now the addition of the College of Global Population Health and the College of Graduate Studies, University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis has a long history of improving health outcomes through global health initiatives and scholarship.
For a number of years, the University has been involved with the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH), an organization that represents academic institutions working in global health around the world.
Stephanie Lukas, Pharm.D., MPH, program director of the Master of Science in Global Health and Equity Education, and associate professor of pharmacy administration, was recently selected through a competitive application process to serve on two committees within CUGH tasked with refining and developing best practices for global health education within the global health discipline.
"As we continue to expand our global health and equity curriculum at the University, I thought it was an exciting way for us to share best practices with other schools and be a part of the process in refining the standards for what global health education looks like because it is still considered a newer discipline," Lukas said. "CUGH has already put out competencies for global health providers and practitioners, which have served as a foundation for our global health degrees at the University. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen incredible growth in awareness and the need for global health and equity education and the importance of remaining on the cutting edge of this ever-evolving discipline."
Lukas' role on the committees is highlighted by her unique experiences in international fieldwork having traveled in more than 50 countries with extensive experience on the African continent where she saw firsthand the integral role pharmacists play in promoting and advancing health equity and positive patient outcomes.
"Pharmacy is an underrepresented profession within global health and CUGH," Lukas said. "Because of the University's dedication to global health and equity education, especially within the context of our pharmacy education, we are in many ways championing the essential role pharmacy plays in the global health space and medication equity. From vaccinations and vaccination hesitancy to simple things like proper storage and transportation of medications to rational use of medications, pharmacists have a huge influence on global health issues like antimicrobial resistance."
Lukas is particularly interested in the unique roles of pharmacists in meeting health care needs within their country's context.
"Country context is hugely important because it affects everything — take disease states for instance," Lukas continued. "We don’t see a lot of malaria in the U.S., but in Sub-Saharan Africa for example, the pharmacist's role presents as vastly different than the role of pharmacists in the U.S."
Recognizing the advantage and necessity of increasing pharmacy’s representation with CUGH, the consortium is very supportive of the opportunities for pharmacists within global health and is looking for ways to create a more intentional space for pharmacists to participate in promoting global health education.
"The University has a lot to bring to the table, when it comes to global health education, because for many years we have incorporated a global perspective, especially within pharmacy and now with our new degree programs and the new College of Global Population Health, that provides our students with an education taught in the context of global health," Lukas said. "Through our involvement with CUGH and the International Pharmaceutical Federation, we have a lot of steppingstones, partnerships and connections which allow us the opportunity to forge new paths within global health education."