Why the need for an integrated case for the integrated core?
BUSPH has responded to demands from the field that their graduates think in systems terms by creating a core curriculum that emphasizes the integration of skills and content. An integrative approach has been supported by recently revised Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) accreditation criteria. In addition to a broader focus within each core course, BUSPH has developed a case to cut across the 4 core courses to show the linkage between identifying and measuring a problem, understanding its social and cultural determinants, analyzing its policy and legal context and then bringing to bear public health management and leadership skills to address it.
Why use maternal mortality as the integrated case?
It is estimated that worldwide almost 300,000 women a year die during pregnancy, childbirth or in the immediate postpartum period. There is no need to search for a miracle vaccine or cure for maternal mortality since the vast majority of these deaths are entirely preventable with the skills and resources we now possess. The problem does not exist only in developing countries. The U.S. maternal mortality rate is the highest in the industrialized world and has been rising in recent years, with mortality rates for non-Hispanic black women 3-4 times higher than for non-Hispanic white women or Hispanic women.
Maternal mortality is a classic public health challenge involving all aspects of the core curriculum: (1) the challenges of measuring the problem, both in the U.S. and internationally are much greater than might be imagined; (2) maternal mortality persists as a problem in large part because of the cultural factors that influence the status of women of different races, ethnicities and religions in a society; (3) policies related to insurance coverage (in the U.S.) and placement of facilities and training of providers (internationally) profoundly influence maternal health; and (4) it will require public health leaders to pull together teams of stakeholders to address the problems in their respective settings.