The School of Public Health at the University of Chile: Origins, Evolution, and Perspectives
© BioMed Central London 2011
Published: 27 May 2011
With the support of and in accordance with the model of the Rockefeller Foundation, the School of Public Health of the University of Chile was established in 1943 as a training center for public health institution administrators. From the beginning its academic leaders also took the lead in the country’s health institutions, allowing the increasing knowledge of public health to be brought directly into practice concurrently with training. The military coup of 1973 halted this cycle and broke and destroyed the links between the school and national governance and policymaking; despite this, the university continued to consolidate its role as the major training institution for public health professionals. During that time the Master’s Programs in Public Health and in Biostatistics were launched, attracting students throughout the country and Latin America, but very few professors had adequate research training. Only in 2000, a decade after the return to democracy, a strategic plan was implemented to renew the School of Public Health (SPH) and reshape it for the new public health scenario in Chile. Since then efforts have been made to bring research skills up to date through PhD training and sending young professors to study abroad. Also, a PhD program was created in the SPH in 2003, and graduates are being rapidly hired in universities and the Health Ministry. The recovery of at least part of a leading role of the public health agenda should be based on the capacity to generate relevant new knowledge and advocate for its implementation.