Hebrew University’s International Master’s in Public Health
As the first school of public health in Israel, the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine at Hebrew University-Hadassah has 50 years of experience in training public health professionals from Israel and from nearly 100 countries across the globe. The International Master of Public Health degree has been awarded to more than 850 graduates from low, medium, and high-income countries since 1960, and more than a thousand Israelis.
The International Master of Public Health (IMPH) program offers a scientifically stimulating and culturally rewarding experience of studying in a foreign country and interacting with peers from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds.
The one-year APHEA-accredited English-language IMPH program provides its trainees with tools for examining public health challenges and formulating relevant responses at the institutional, community, and national level. The students develop knowledge and skills in a broad range of public health disciplines, thus preparing them to take up key positions as leaders and teachers in their home countries, in areas such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis prevention and control, prevention and treatment of heart disease, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases, combating malnutrition and tobacco use, and fighting the stigma associated with mental illness.
IMPH students have a wide range of cultural backgrounds and work experiences, comprising physicians, nurses, other health professionals, economists, social scientists, and those interested in public health from other disciplines. Many of the IMPH graduates return home at the completion of their training to occupy leadership positions in the healthcare systems of their communities and countries.
Israeli study says Zika virus alerts spread too much confusion
Hebrew University study says information on the epidemic was at too high a reading level.
Information about the 2015- 2016 Zika virus epidemic that was released by the World Health Organization caused confusion and even panic in the world because it was written for people with graduate-school educations rather than the common man.
Also, press releases issued by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were found to be suited for high-school graduates but not people with less education.
These are the conclusions reached by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who studied health monitoring and communication during the recent Zika epidemic and have proposed ways for health authorities to better contain future epidemics.
The researchers studied online trends, incidence and health risk communication during the spread of Zika in South and Central America and East Asia. The epidemic aroused great concern among the public worldwide, especially due to the fear of possible harm to fetuses whose mothers contracted the virus.
The study, just published in BMJ Global Health, was led by international master of public health student Dr. Gbenga Adebayo, under the guidance of Dr. Hagai Levine and Prof. Yehuda Neumark and in cooperation with Wiessam Abu Ahmad, at the Hebrew University- Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, and Dr. Anat Gesser-Edelsburg of the University of Haifa’s School of Public Health.
Looking at the period between May 1, 2015 and May 30, 2016, the researchers analyzed Google search trends for Zika disease and related concepts, and correlated them with Zika incidence globally, in the US and in the five countries where the epidemic was most severe. They also examined communications from the WHO’s Pan America Health Organization and the CDC, including the contents of press releases, practical recommendations to the public, and how this corresponded to the public’s search for information online.
The authors found press releases from the WHO and the CDC were reactive and hard to read; on average, 17 years of education needed in order to understand WHO press releases but only 12.4 years for CDC statements.
In four of the five countries with the highest incidence, the researchers found very strong correlations between online search trends and the number of suspected Zika cases.
This suggests that monitoring online trends can complement traditional surveillance efforts during Zika and other pandemics.
The researchers also found that health authorities’ press releases were reactive in nature: they followed online search trends for Zika-related info, and their timing was delayed. This communication time lag represents missed opportunities for mitigating risk, controlling infection and alleviating anxiety.
The content of press releases was not optimally adapted to the public’s needs and ability to understand.
Ideally, materials for the public should have a much lower grade-level score; for example, patient education material should be written at a sixth-grade or lower reading level.
Compared to WHO press releases, CDC press releases were shorter, with significantly lower word counts. Not only were they more readable, but also more likely to provide advice regarding risks, to provide contact details and links to other resources, and to include figures or graphs.
The research has immediate implications for health organizations and reveals gaps in their preparedness for global epidemics. It indicates deficiencies in using the Internet both as a source of information and as a public outreach channel. The consequences can include missed opportunities to better contain the event, improve infection control and reduce public anxiety.
The researchers recommend improving the readability of public health messages, by adding a “layman’s summary” and involving public representatives in assessing readability before releasing documents to the public. Press releases should also reiterate specific steps and behaviors people need to take to mitigate risks, and health communication should make their announcements early. The researchers also conclude that in times of public health emergencies, health authorities such as the WHO could work together with companies like Google to promote reliable sources of health information.
“In the age of social media, press releases remain an important tool for communicating information to the public in times of health crises such as the ongoing Zika pandemic,” said Adebayo, a distinguished graduate of the Hebrew University- Hadassah International MPH program. “Press releases are the initial, and often the only, source of news for health and medical science journalists, and many news organizations reprint health-related and science-related press releases verbatim,” Adebayo said.
“Creating trust between the public and health authorities is a key factor in the public’s perception of risk and the extent to which they are willing to act on official recommendations,” said Levine, the paper’s senior author and head of the environmental health track at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine.
“Mass media tools are continually evolving and public health crises can move with incredible speed. In this fast-paced environment, health authorities need to effectively leverage modern communications platforms in both directions: to communicate effectively with the public, and to monitor epidemiological trends and assess the public’s needs.
Comprehensive study shows a significant ongoing decline in sperm counts of Western men, pointing to impaired male health and decreasing fertility
SUMMARY: A rigorous and comprehensive meta-analysis of data collected between 1973 and 2011 finds that among men from Western countries who were not selected on the basis of their fertility status, sperm concentration declined by more than 50%, with no evidence of a “leveling off” in recent years. These findings strongly suggest a significant decline in male reproductive health that has serious implications beyond fertility and reproduction, given recent evidence linking poor semen quality with a higher risk of hospitalization and death. Research on causes of this ongoing decline and their prevention is urgently needed.
Jerusalem, July 25, 2017 — In the first systematic review and meta-analysis of trends in sperm count, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Medicine and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai report a significant decline in sperm concentration and total sperm count among men from Western countries. The study is published in Human Reproduction Update, the leading journal in the fields of Reproductive Biology and Obstetrics & Gynecology.
By screening 7,500 studies and conducting a meta-regression analysis on 185 studies between 1973 and 2011, the researchers found a 52.4 percent decline in sperm concentration, and a 59.3 percent decline in total sperm count, among men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand who were not selected based on their fertility status. In contrast, no significant decline was seen in South America, Asia, and Africa, where far fewer studies have been conducted.
The study also indicates the rate of decline among Western men is not decreasing: the slope was steep and significant even when the analysis was restricted to studies with sample collection between 1996 and 2011.
The research was led by Dr. Hagai Levine, Head of the Environmental Health Track at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Jerusalem, with Dr. Shanna H. Swan, Professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, and an international team of researchers from Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Spain, and the United States.
While declines in sperm count have been reported since 1992, the question has remained controversial because of limitations in past studies. However, the current study uses a broader scope and rigorous meta-regression methods, conservatively addresses the reliability of study estimates, and controls for factors that might help explain the decline such as age, abstinence time, and selection of the study population.
“Given the importance of sperm counts for male fertility and human health, this study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world to investigate the causes of the sharp ongoing drop in sperm count, with the goal of prevention,” said Dr. Hagai Levine, also an adjunct assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.
The findings have important public health implications. First, these data demonstrate that the proportion of men with sperm counts below the threshold for subfertility or infertility is increasing. Moreover, given the findings from recent studies that reduced sperm count is related to increased morbidity and mortality, the ongoing decline points to serious risks to male fertility and health.
“Decreasing sperm count has been of great concern since it was first reported 25 years ago. This definitive study shows, for the first time, that this decline is strong and continuing. The fact that the decline is seen in Western countries strongly suggests that chemicals in commerce are playing a causal role in this trend,” Dr. Shanna H. Swan.
While the current study did not examine causes of the observed declines, sperm count has previously been plausibly associated with environmental and lifestyle influences, including prenatal chemical exposure, adult pesticide exposure, smoking, stress, and obesity. Therefore, sperm count may sensitively reflect the impact of the modern environment on male health across the lifespan and serve as a “canary in the coal mine” signaling broader risks to male health.
The Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine is the first school of public health in Israel and one of five schools within the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine. Since 1961, both in Israel and internationally, the Braun School, which is APHEA accredited, has improved the physical, mental and social well-being of populations, trained a public health workforce for the challenges of today and the future, conducted public health research, and made an impact on health services and policy. The School’s renowned International Master’s in Public Health (IMPH) program prepares graduates to take up key positions as leaders and teachers of public health in their home countries.
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Researchers who participated in this study are affiliated with Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, and the Hebrew University Center of Excellence in Agriculture and Environmental Health, Jerusalem, Israel; Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, and Gustave L. and Janet W. Levy Library, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA; University Department of Growth and Reproduction, University of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark; Department of Physiology, Federal University of Parana, Curitiba, Brazil; Division of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Murcia School of Medicine and Biomedical Research Institute of Murcia, Murcia, Spain; Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel.
CITATION: Temporal trends in sperm count: A systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Hagai Levine, Niels Jørgensen, Anderson Martino‐Andrade, Jaime Mendiola, Dan Weksler-Derri, Irina Mindlis, Rachel Pinotti, Shanna H Swan. Human Reproduction Update, July 25, 2017, doi:10.1093/humupd/dmx022. Link: https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/humupd/dmx022.
FUNDING: Researchers received support from the Environment and Health Fund (EHF), Jerusalem, Israel; American Healthcare Professionals and Friends for Medicine in Israel (APF); Israel Medical Association (IMA) [Levine]; Research Fund of Rigshospitalet (grant no. R42-A1326) [Jørgensen); The Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development [Martino-Andrade]; The Mount Sinai Transdisciplinary Center on Early Environmental Exposures (NIH P30ES023515) [Swan].