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UMass Amherst SPHHS wins HHS award to create Public Health Training Center

September 02, 2017

Chipkin and Gerber point out that the role of public health has changed in the past 50 years from a focus on communicable diseases such as polio and measles to non-communicable "lifestyle diseases" such as diabetes and lung cancer caused by smoking. Chipkin, an endocrinologist, points out that diabetes and its related problems of obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol have huge public health implications for heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputation.

One goal for the current and next generation of community public health professionals is to focus on prevention, he stresses. For diabetes, this means improving diet and exercise habits among people who are pre-diabetic. Chipkin also notes that programs will need to involve all ages because obesity and diabetes rates are rising rapidly among children as well as adults.

DiFulvio agrees. "Our collective view among public health practitioners in western Massachusetts cities, towns and rural areas is that diabetes is really affecting people of all ages in our communities. The approach we will take as a training center is: What can we do together to make a difference?"

Chipkin says that this project "is a great opportunity to bridge the world of clinic and community by increasing collaboration between the state's flagship public university and health care providers and community health organizations."

Gerber adds, "With this grant we plan to build ongoing, continuous collaborations with community members who see us as full partners in a year-round effort to support and train frontline health workers with a disease prevention framework."

Source: University of Massachusetts at Amherst