A number of Eastern European and Central Asian countries are considered by the World Bank as lower or middle income countries (LMICs). Their growing economies are undergoing rapid change. Consequently, environmental and occupational health needs are great.
The University of Florida Department of Environmental and Global Health, College of Public Health and Health Professions is collaborating with Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and created a One Health Center for Environmental and Occupational Research GEOHealth Hub at Babeş-Bolyai University. The GEOHealth Hub is capitalizing on pre-existing research collaborations in partnering with 11 other academic centers and 16 public health institutions in 7 other Eastern European and Central Asian LMICs: Albania, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhztan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Romania. The GEOHealth Hub focuses upon three research and training areas 1) aquatic health, 2) food safety, and 3) zoonotic diseases.
The long-term objective of the the GEOHealth Hub is to strengthen institutional capacity for environmental and occupational research and training at the 12 participating academic centers. Specific aims in the first two years are 1) conduct an evidence-based needs and opportunities assessment to identify environmental and occupational public health problems in Albania, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhztan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Romania; 2) establish the GEOHealth Hub at Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania; 3) design research studies that address the focal research topics of the GEOHealth Hub and plan the necessary capacity building to successfully conduct the Center’s research activities; and 4) develop an evaluation plan for monitoring the success of Aims 1-3.
The GEOHealth Hub is innovative as it will employ the One Health, cross-disciplinary approach to engage experts in public, veterinary, and environmental health fields from each of the 12 academic institutions towards research and training projects to improve public health. The GEOHealth Hub will be supported by the University of Florida which has 16 land grant and health science colleges from which to draw research and training expertise, including One Health-oriented courses, One Health Master and PhD degree programs, and One Health research projects.