Introduction to International Health (IIH)

This short course gives a broad introduction to international health. The focus is on determinants of health with special attention for poverty-related diseases in low-and middle-income societies. It encompasses health promotion, disease prevention and control.
The knowledge, techniques and skills for research, critical analysis and decision making with regard to important endemic diseases are essential in the course objectives.
This course targets (junior) health professionals with a concrete interest and/or career perspective in international health. Professionals with significant experience in low- and middle-income countries are advised to explore courses which go beyond the introductory level (e.g. master degrees or more specialized short courses).

Mode of study

This course (component) is organized :
- Face-to-face (Antwerpen)

Learning Objectives

By the end of the short course, students should be able to:
  • discuss determinants of health in general and of health care seeking behaviour in particular
  • analyse the main biomedical, clinical and epidemiological aspects of the major health problems in low and middle income countries in order to manage their prevention and control at population and individual level
  • organise primary health care services taking into account local priorities and resource availability as well as the perspective of communities and patients
  • describe the major issues in international health policy and development cooperation
  • critically analyse disease control programmes, applying scientific tools and methods
  • manage communication and teamwork in a multi-disciplinary setting


The current course structure, consisting of 8 blocks, one introductory and 7 thematic, enhances integration of different disciplines central to international health.
Note that the block structure is being reviewed. Specific blocks will be offered for more biomedically oriented professionals. An updated course programme will be published as soon as possible.
The introductory block introduces concepts and tools of public health, epidemiology and statistics. The thematic blocks focus on major health problems, such as vector-borne diseases, HIV/Aids, TB, bacteria, the next blocks on important social groups (motherhood, childhood, emergencies) or on specific lab techniques. The last block tackles the organisation of health care for a defined (health district) population.
In all blocks clinical and biomedical aspects of major health problems are combined in a balanced way with a public health approach. It thereby integrates quantitative and qualitative methods and highlights topical issues in international health.

Teaching and learning methods

The course uses a combination of state of the art lectures, interactive classes, individual study and exercises, coached team work and practical laboratory work. The lecturers have extensive experience overseas and come from all departments of ITM. Their field experience and scientific work feeds extensively into the course. External lecturers complement specific areas of expertise.
  • Contact hours  are a combination of state of the art lectures and interactive classes often as discussions on cases and on articles or book chapters read during self-study time
  • Group work / assignments are done outside formal contact hours in groups of 5-6 students. Plenary sessions with presentations by students and comments by expert panels conclude these assignments. Examples of group assignments:
    • Vertical analysis: systematic analysis of a disease problem, developing an epidemiological model and control interventions.
    • General exercise on emergency settings, developing an action plan for an emergency situation in conflict area and/or epidemic
    • Case study to illustrate the need of different perspectives of different actors and stakeholders in a health care delivery process
  • Critical reading skills are developed during discussion of scientific papers
  • Laboratory skills are taught through practical sessions


Participants are assessed through 7 tests (2 hours /test) with equal weight for the final result
    • 1 open-book test on Epidemiology and Statistics (in week 5)
    • 6 closed-book tests related to 6 blocks: vector-borne diseases, TB, HIV/Aids, motherhood, childhood, health systems (in week 15 & 16)
Each closed-book test consists of 2 components: essay questions (60% of mark) and a set of multiple-choice questions (40% of mark)
Students pass when they succeed for all 7 tests with at least 50%
Students who fail a test are entitled to a re-sit exam
Note that the planned changes in the block structure may lead to minor changes in the assessment as well.

Admission requirements

Academic degree
Applicants must be holder of a university degree of minimum 4 years equivalent to 240 ECTS (referred to as a Master’s degree in the European Union) in medicine or health sciences such as pharmacy, nursing, midwifery, health economics, medical sociology, medical anthropology and biomedical sciences.
Language proficiency
Required level for English: TOEFL 580 (paper-based), 230 (computer-based) or 88 (internet-based), IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. (ITM Toefl Code 7727).
Note that native English speakers are exempt from these language requirements. Applicants whose first language is not English are equally exempt if they have obtained 60 credits from a higher education programme taught in English. Non-native English speakers are also exempt from the English language requirement if they have a higher education diploma from a Flemish Community higher education institution.
Documents required at application
  • Copies of academic and professional degrees
  • Copies of transcripts of academic records (scores)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Passport-size photograph
  • If relevant, proof of English language proficiency (e.g. TOEFL)
  • Short motivation letter

Selection criteria

For organizational purposes, a maximum of 60 students is admitted.
Admission is on a first-come first-served basis among applicants which belong to the target group of the course and have completed the application file.


This short course can be done as a core course of the Master of Science in Public Health at ITM (see > courses and applications > MPH programme) with the possibility of credit mobility in the tropEd network (see


This course (component) is accredited by :


Course Leader: Bruno Marchal
Coordinator (s): Marianne Hilgert
Secretary: Marianne Hilgert
Tel: +32(0)32476471


The course study load is equivalent to 20 ECTS credits (European Credit Transfer and accumulation System credits). The Student Investment Time (SIT) is approximately 596 hours. (376 Lecture contact hours / 220 Self-study).
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