What? The Master in
Public Health (MPH) is an international programme for students interested in improving
health by addressing health problems and strengthening health systems in resource-constrained settings, with
particular attention for vulnerable populations. The MPH at the Institute of
Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp provides students with the opportunity to
study international health, health policy, systems, disease control programmes
and health services, as well as evaluation and research applied to these topics.
The MPH is a master
programme aiming at the acquisition of both academic and professional
competencies. It contributes to the development of evidence-based and
context-specific health programmes, policies and strategies for public health
and health systems strengthening. The MPH offers insight into public health
related disciplines, and allows for the acquisition of analytical and
problem-solving skills, research and evaluation competencies and the ability to
deal with complexity. It fosters students’ reflexivity and public health
The MPH combines evidence-informed insights and
real-life applications in diverse contexts. The course is the result of more
than 50 years of experience in adjusting teaching content and format to
evolving needs in a changing world. The right to health, equity, gender equality and solidarity are central
to the master programme.
For whom? The MPH
targets a variety of students: early or mid-career health professionals or researchers with an academic (university) degree in health (medicine, pharmacy, nursing, midwifery),
biomedical sciences, health-related bio-engineering or other health-related
domains, such as medical sociology & anthropology, health economics, etc). Candidates
from a non-health-related discipline, can still apply to the programme under
certain conditions (e.g. sufficient experience in the health sector).
Health at ITM is taught in a stimulating academic environment, taking a
multidisciplinary perspective, and nurturing a culture of reflexivity. The wide
range of backgrounds of the international student group allows for a rich
exchange, comparative analysis and confrontation of ideas, while the teaching
staff is highly involved in research in low- and middle-income countries and
has intimate “field knowledge”.
The MPH was rated
excellent and re-accredited by the Dutch Flemish Accreditation Organisation
(NVAO). Over 80% of former students report that the course had a high-to-very
high impact on their career and that they took up more strategic positions at regional,
national or international level after graduation.
MPH Learning objectives
Upon completion, students should be able to:
Demonstrate insight into and knowledge of public/international health related disciplines.
Critically reflect on public/international health issues and their underlying values
Critically analyse a health system
Retrieve, appraise, summarise and report scientific and tacit evidence
Define an appropriate research and/or evaluation question, collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data, and draw conclusions
Master quantitative and qualitative research methods relevant for their public health practice
Formulate evidence-based and context-specific health interventions and programmes
Adapt global strategies and policies to the national and local context, and inversely inform policymaking in a bottom-up sense
Communicate clearly orally and in writing to professional and scientific audiences
Function responsibly and independently in a professional and multidisciplinary team, demonstrating analytical and problem solving skills as well as communication and negotiation skills
The figure below explains how students can
structure their MPH programme according to their profile, depending on two
experience: students with at least 6 months of work experience in Public/International Health follow the Introduction to International
Health core course. Students with at least 2 years of work experience in Public/International Health are advised to choose the Introduction
to Health Systems & Disease control. Before graduation all students are expected to have acquired at least 2 years of work experience in Public/International Health.
Different core courses for different student
What is the difference between the core courses
‘Introduction to Health Systems & Disease
Control’ and the ‘Introduction to International Health’? While the introductions
are equivalent, the general approach and course structure are different.
Introduction to Health Systems & Disease Control (20
This introduction targets students with at
least 2 years of relevant professional experience in Public/International Health
and explicitly builds on that experience through case-studies and peer learning.
It consists of three course components:
This course component is an
introduction to concepts, frameworks, methods and tools to describe and analyses
local and national health systems and health policy.The module on local health systems looks into different dimensions of care, including the interaction between demand, need and supply, access and utilisation, and quality of care.
The local health system is analysed with special attention to integrated systems, stewardship, the interface with health programmes, community participation and the interaction with social services. The module on health policy broadens the
scope to the national health system and its actors and focuses on principles and challenges in governance, financing, human resources, medicines policy, and service delivery. At the end of the course component, students apply the concepts
and frameworks during field visits to first line health and social services and health policy actors in Belgium and reflect on lessons for their own context.
This course component is an
introduction to research methods in public health from different research
traditions and disciplines, including epidemiology & statistics, social
sciences, and health policy & systems research. It prepares participants to
apply these methods in public health decision-making scenarios, such as
critical appraisal of research findings, reviewing the literature, routine data
analysis, monitoring and evaluation, guideline development, research priority
setting, participation in a research project and research proposal development.
Attainment of the learning objectives of this introductory course component is
a pre-requisite to follow advanced course components on research methods.
This course component is an
introduction to concepts and methods to analyse health problems, interventions
and programmes. Current operational challenges in the prevention and control of
key health problems are discussed, with special attention to screening,
surveillance, outbreak investigation, control versus elimination,
vaccination strategies, organisation of chronic care, involvement of
communities and multisectoral approaches. The concepts, analytical frameworks, and
implementation issues are illustrated through applications in a wide range of
health problems: tuberculosis, malaria, dengue, cholera, human African
trypanosomiasis, cysticercosis, hepatitis B, mother-to-child-transmission
of HIV and diabetes.
International Health (20 ECTS)
The Introduction to International Health offers a broad and multidisciplinary
introduction to international health to students with at least 6 months of professional experience
in Public/ International Health. It consists of 8 blocks (one introductory, 6
thematic and 1 synthesis block) and has a focus on populations (public health), patients
(clinical sciences ) and pathogens
The introduction block provides concepts and tools of public health, epidemiology, research methods and statistics, laboratory techniques and biosafety
The first three thematic blocks focus on major health problems from an interdisciplinary perspective,
including vector-borne diseases, HIV/AIDS and TB
The next three thematic blocks focus on specific social groups/situations (motherhood, childhood,
vulnerable groups), or on interdisciplinary themes (zoonosis, antimicrobial resistance, one health
The synthesis blockallows students to integrate their skills and knowledge and apply it in a
specific exercise on health systems or outbreaks
A set of advanced course
components for each orientation
Students can select 25 ECTS from orientation-specific advanced course components.
thesis writing process gives the students the opportunity to integrate
knowledge, methods and skills acquired during the orientation. It allows them
to collect, analyse and use primary and/or secondary, quantitative and/or
qualitative data, carry out a review of the literature, and critically appraise
their personal experiences and contextual issues to draw conclusions. The
students will select a thesis topic in line with their study orientation, and personal
interest and experience. The thesis document and oral defence allow the members
of the examination board to assess the level of the participants’ attainment of
the learning objectives.For more information on the thesis, please go the specific webpage.
Teaching and Learning
The Master in Public Health course explicitly uses
methods for adult learning emphasising a participatory approach to learning: we
believe that learning and teaching is co-created by students and staff. The
programme consists of interactive lectures, exercises, critical reading, small
group sessions followed by plenary presentations, debates, and coached
individual or group assignments.
In addition to the contact hours, personal study
time is required for preparatory and additional reading and for the
assignments. All teaching material, including theme-specific readers, is
available on an online learning platform.
assessment procedures depend on the chosen course components and include the
thesis and its defence. The Degree of Master of Science in Public Health is
awarded to participants who have successfully completed each of the course
components, the thesis and the defence.
ADMISSION AND SELECTION CRITERIA
admission and selection criteria, please visit the orientation-specific information
course study load is equivalent to 60 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System).:
offers a number of scholarships with the financial support
of different agencies. The Belgian Directorate General for Development is the
main sponsor. For more information: please visit the webpage on scholarships.
information on the MPH, contact Marianne Hilgert: MPH@itg.be