1 million expected to join in on Cutler Global Disaster Lecture

09/28/05

CDC expert on disaster relief to deliver Second Annual Cutler Lecture at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, which will be webcast to more than 150 countries

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 27 Recent problems in organizing and delivering aid to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the tsunami that devastated parts of Southeast Asia has made collecting and analyzing data on relief efforts a critical priority. On Thursday, Sept. 29, Eric Noji, M.D., M.P.H., senior policy advisor for emergency preparedness and response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will address an expected global audience of 1 million listeners about important contributions that epidemiologists can make to enhance the effectiveness of disaster relief planning and management. The lecture, originating at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), will be particularly salient for those responsible for determining appropriate relief supplies, equipment, personnel, staging and logistics needed to adequately respond to future calamities.

One of the world's leading experts in medical and health responses to natural, biological and technological disasters, Dr. Noji has spearheaded disaster relief efforts for the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO). His lecture, "The Public Health Consequences of Disasters: Challenges for Public Health Action," will focus on the urgent need to collect better epidemiologic data in the aftermath of disasters. The lecture is being presented as GSPH's Second Annual John C. Cutler Global Health Lecture.

The annual lecture is offered in honor of John C. Cutler, M.D., M.P.H., professor emeritus in GSPH's department of behavioral and community health sciences, who passed away in 2003 at the age of 87. This year's Cutler Lecture will be held at 4 p.m, EDT, Thursday, Sept. 29, in GSPH's Parran Hall, Room G23-Public Health Auditorium, 130 DeSoto St., in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Noji's lecture is being hosted in conjunction with the University Center for International Studies' International Week 2005 and will be webcast live to a global audience. Organizers expect it to reach more than 150 countries and 1 million students, potentially making it the largest audience for an academic lecture ever, according to Ronald E. LaPorte, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and acting director of GSPH's Global Health Program.

"The groups participating in the dissemination of this historic lecture represent a 'network of networks,' with more than 300 organizations joining together on the Internet, including the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, by Satellite (Peacesat). It will be the most widely disseminated lecture of its kind," said Dr. LaPorte, who is one of the organizers of the lecture and an internationally known leader in disseminating public health information through GSPH's "Supercourse." To date, the Supercourse, which is designed to provide an overview on epidemiology and the Internet for medical and health related students around the world, has distributed more than 2,300 lectures.

According to Bernard Goldstein, M.D., dean of GSPH, Dr. Noji's lecture is a crucial first step in developing better responses to disasters. "Schools of public health, and disaster epidemiology programs in particular, can potentially play very important roles in helping both to plan for future disasters and to assess how well we are responding to current disasters. Through Dr. Noji's lecture and other efforts, the GSPH is providing timely, scholarly information on these topics that can be disseminated through the classrooms of schools of public health and other institutions to public health officials and practitioners locally, nationally and globally."

Prior to serving at the CDC, Dr. Noji was chief of the emergency health intelligence unit in the WHO's Department of Emergency and Humanitarian Action in Geneva, Switzerland, where he was responsible for assessing the needs and monitoring the health of emergency and disaster-affected populations around the world. He also served as the coordinator of WHO's Health Information Network for Advanced Planning (HINAP), a global database and surveillance system focusing on the health and nutritional status of refugees and forcibly displaced populations.

Dr. Noji also has been chief of the International Emergency and Refugee Health Program at CDC and was responsible for coordinating the CDC's medical and public health response to international requests for assistance for disasters and other humanitarian crises, such as refugee and displaced population situations. He also served as the director of the CDC's WHO Collaborating Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response. Dr. Noji has a medical degree from the University of Rochester in New York and a master's of public health degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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