The purpose of this grant from the NIH Fogarty International Center is to plan for the establishment of a Global Environmental and Occupational Health (GEOHealth) Hub in Ukraine in collaboration with University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, College of Medicine, and Universities from Belarus, Poland, and Serbia. Our specific aims are to: 1) develop a strategic plan for the GEOHealth Hub; 2) conduct an assessment of needs and opportunities that addresses the science needed to support relevant policy development in Ukraine; 3) update Ukraine’s National Environmental Health Action Plan; 4) provide academic participation in the development of the National Occupational Health Action Plan; 5) mine data from the Family and Children of Ukraine study to set priorities for policy on children’s environmental health; 6) form bi-national research teams to plan future research programs; 7) use professional journals to facilitate the planning; 8) conduct outreach to potential partners in Belarus, Moldova, and Serbia; and 9) evaluate the success of the planning process
In 2013 we worked with our Ukrainian collaborators at the Ukrainian National Academy of Medical Sciences on the development of a Strategic Plan for the GEOHealth Hub, and formed a bi-national Steering Committee and cadre of experts that will collaborate in the development of the strategic plan. We conducted a literature review of best practices and challenges for international research consortia and shared these with all U.S. and Ukrainian stakeholders. We gathered information and conducted needs assessment in the area of occupational and environmental health to develop relevant research programs in this country. We will use the results of the research needs assessments and faculty expertise matrix analysis to form teams of investigators for future research programs. We are working on assessment of data from our joint Family and Children of Ukraine (FCOU) study to set priorities for policy on children’s environmental health.
On May 29 and 30, 2013 we conducted a two-day GEOHealth Hub Planning Meeting at NAMS Institute for Occupational Medicine in Kyiv, Ukraine. Six UIC faculties traveled to Kyiv, Ukraine to conduct this meeting with our Ukrainian collaborators from IOM; the NAMS Marzeiev Institute for Hygiene and Medical Ecology, the NAMS Institute of Pediatrics, Obstetrics, and Gynecology, and the NAMS Institute of Endocrinology and Metabolism. During the first day of the meeting the following topics were discussed: Occupational Health in Ukraine: current state, policies, and research needs; Environmental Health in Ukraine: environmental health action plan and research policy needs; the state of research in areas of Occupational and Environmental Health; role of the Academy of Medical Sciences in setting national research agenda; strengths and resources of the UIC School of Public Health: program in Environmental and Occupational Health, the NIOSH Education and Research Center Program and SPH Fogarty International Training and Research Program in Environmental and Occupational Health in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. During the second day of the meeting the following topics were covered: how to build the International Research Consortium; identification of specific research themes within the Consortium; data management: models for ensuring data quality; protection of human subjects; data sharing policies; participation of young scientists in the Consortia research at early stages of their careers; development of communication plans and evaluation; how to use professional journals to facilitate the planning and dissemination of the research results; outreach to potential partners in Belarus, Serbia and Poland; and formation of joint Steering committee. Once we agreed on the research theme (Energy Security and Health Protection) we identified several areas for bi-national research collaboration, many of which included established cohorts. From May 20 through May 25 we conducted several meetings in Belarus with representatives of Government and Universities involved in the research and development of environmental health policies in this country. These Universities could be the potential participants of a future GEOHealth Hub program in Belarus.
Our plans for 2014 are to: 1) complete the development of the strategic plan for the GEOHealth Hub; 2) to review Ukraine’s National Environmental Health Action Plan; 3) to set priorities for policy on children’s environmental health in Ukraine based on the assessment of data from the Family and Children of Ukraine study; 4) review the development of the National Occupational Health Action Plan in Ukraine; 5) conduct an assessment of needs and opportunities in the area of Occupational and Environmental Health that addresses the science needed to support relevant policy development in Belarus, Serbia and Poland ; 6) review, update, and supplement these plans with training needs assessment; 7) form multi-national research teams to plan future research programs in the area of Occupational and Environmental health in Ukraine, Belarus, Serbia, and Poland; 8) use professional journals of these countries to facilitate the planning; 9) evaluate the success of the planning process; 10) conduct the second workshop on the strategic planning for the GEOHealth Hub with participation of representatives of Belarus, Serbia and Poland.