The University of Illinois displays breadth and depth in disciplines relevant to multifaceted global health challenges, from the One Health of humans, animals, and environment to the development and implementation of technologies which address clean water accessibility to the business of agricultural production in developing economies. The Global Health Initiative seeks to advance a cohesive program which utilizes global health as a common thread to demonstrate our capacity for interdisciplinarity as the norm in research, education and outreach. This includes developing programs which prepare the global health leaders of tomorrow with sensitivity to globalization, experience with international partnership, and a mindset of interdisciplinary collaboration.
Njala University in Sierra Leone was established in 1964 by faculty from the University of Illinois with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Since that time, civil war in Sierra Leone lasting from roughly 1991 through 2002 took a tremendous toll on the Njala University system, including loss of facilities, staff, and students. But Njala has since emerged form wartime losses to embark on a phase of growth in the international scene, including strengthening of the relationship between Njala University and the University of Illinois, led by a number of faculty and students, primarily facilitated by the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES).
The Global Health Initiative at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a 2011 Focal Point program, recently assembled a delegation which sought to explore opportunities to expand this relationship with Sierra Leonean partners around a global health theme through an exploratory visit with support and participation from the College of Medicine, the Center for Global Studies, Scientific Animations without Borders (SAWBO) at the University of Illinois, and the University YMCA. Building upon this commitment to a core interdisciplinary global health partnership, the Global Health Initiative and collaborating partners are seeking to launch a formal program which establishes the Illinois-Njala Partnership as a fixture of scholarly activity at Illinois.