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What influence do social determinants such as education and income have on health in the global world? How can knowledge about health be made public worldwide? How should topics in global health sciences be represented in medical studies? Read more about these and other research topics of the Global Health Sciences Unit of the Institute of Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

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Access to results of publicly financed research

Publicly funded research still plays a key role in the research and development of new drugs, vaccinations or diagnostic procedures globally. Intellectual property rights, however, often prevent that many people around the world can benefit from publicly-funded research results. So far the responsibility of publicly funded research to the public financing it has not been discussed nor researched in Germany.

We examine the role and impact of intellectual property rights in publicly financed research projects in the health sector. Therefore we cooperate with Prof. Dr. Christine Godt (Jean Monnet Chair of European and International Business Law, Civil Law at University of Oldenburg, Carl von Ossietzki) and Dr. Christian Wagner Ahlfs (BUKO Pharma) in the project "Medical Research – in the public interest" (med4all).

During the intense debate on the issue publicly funded research a close working relationship with the organization "Universities Allied for Essential Medicines", was established. UAEM is set-up in the local groups at various universities in Germany and abroad active. It is a network of students who lobby to ensure that medical progress is to be made accessible to everyone worldwide.

UAEM achieved that the Faculty of the Charité, as the first German research organization, stated that they will considered social aspects when marketing university patents. In its third-party funding statutes, the faculty decided to states that "research must be accessible to people in need."

Social determinants of health

Through the long-standing cooperation in teaching of medical students between the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics and the Jenny de la Torre Foundation, that performs medical aid and care for the homeless, scientific cooperation on the issues around medical care for homeless people emerged.

Together with the projekt "LAIB und SEELE" of the Berliner Tafel, the churches and the Berliner Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, we investigate the effects of poverty and malnutrition.

We tried to understand how possibly preserved foods, saved from the senseless death in the trashbin, can help people with little money, social services and children who want to eat healthy.

Together with the project of organizations Doctors of the World and the project Meditrina of Doctors Without Borders, we analyzed medical care of migrants without a residence permit in Germany and Switzerland.

Global Health Education

The project area pioneers Global Health Education in Germany. Our intensive debate with interested students and civil-society organizations around health in a national and global context contributes significantly to the development of a global health agenda in Germany.

Already in 2008 we carried out a series of events on Global Health across Germany  for the first time, together with the "Globalisation and Health Initiative" www.bvmd; (Gandhi; group of medical students from the federal representation of medical students in Germany e.V. (BVMD).

Together with the Copenhagen School of Global Health and civil society partners IPPNW - German Section of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War / Physicians for Social Responsibility Association and Health Action International we set up a summer school on "Global Health in the context of a globalized world of teaching summer school.

Together with colleagues from the University of Bologna (Italy), University of Valencia (Spain), London Metropolitan University (UK), Ege Üniversitesi (Izmir, Turkey), Aristoteleio Panepistimio Thessaloniki (Greece) and the New Bulgarian University (Sofia, Bulgaria), we conduct regularly a summer school, funded by the European Union, under the topic of "Global Health & migration: Interdisciplinary tools to tackle health inequalities".

The content taught in the summer schools is incorporated in the first elective Global Health seminar at the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, which we have established since the winter semester 2012/13.

As part of the European Academic Global Health Alliance (EAGHA) we exchange views and ideas with colleagues from other academic institution on global health to form a common European voice on these topics and areas and to get the into politics. Within EAGHA we strive as the Sub-Committee Global Health in cooperation with Prof. Dr. de Courten, to promote and to strengthen Global Health education and training in Europe.

Together with the Berlin Medical Council, and the organizations Doctors of the World, Doctors Without Borders and the German Red Cross we organize annually the international "Humanitarian Congress". The congress, initiated 1997 by the Berlin Medical Council, aims to promotes debate on humanitarian aid in Germany and is geared to aid workers and especially interested students. Annually the congress attracts more than 550 participants, and is the largest and best known international event on humanitarian aid.

Development of the research unit

The Global Health Sciences Unit has evolved from the former International Institute of Health Sciences (Prof. em. Frank Schelp) and continues today especially with Global Health.

Historically close scientific cooperation links were established between academic research institutions in the Philippines, Thailand and Laos, which have led to regular exchange of scholars and students.

This international research collaboration led to extensive research into infectious diseases from a public health perspective. Infectious diseases were on the one hand perceived as an again occurring and increasing problem in industrialized nations, and at the same time as a chronic health problem in developing countries. Priorities in research collaboration with colleagues from South East Asia as well as North America and Australia were, particularly on mother and child health, and epidemiological aspects of malaria and dengue fever spread.

In addition to extensive research, the department supported the development of master's programs in Epidemiology at the University of Manila (Philippines), Mahidol University, Bangkok and Khon Kaen University (both Thailand). This work was funded by the German Forschungemeinschaft (DFG), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).