220.601.01 | AY 2013-2014 - 1st Term | 4 Credit(s)
TTh 1:30:00 PM
  • Welcome Message

    Welcome to Introduction to International Health. This course provides an overview of current issues in international public health with particular emphasis on underserved populations in low-income countries. The course is designed to be both a first course for students entering the field of international health, as well as an update on current technical and policy issues for more advanced students who may have considerable experience. The course will also serve as a "gateway" to other courses offered later in the year that will cover in greater depth issues and topics that are raised in this introductory course. Among these areas are the following: organization and management of health systems, international nutrition, disease prevention and control, social and behavioral interventions, global health policy, community health and primary health care, and humanitarian assistance and refugee health.

    We hope you enjoy the course. If you have any questions, please contact the teaching assistant for your discussion group section, or write an e-mail to

  • Contact Information
    Henry Perry
  • Contact Information (additional)

    Henry Perry, MD, PhD, MPH
    Office: E8537
    Tel: 443-797-5202
    Home Page:

  • Teaching Assistants

    Yuenwai Hung,

    Nasreen Jessani,

    Erica Koegler,

    Htet Oo,

    Tsering Lama, 

    Timothy Roberton,

    Veena Sriram,

  • Course Description
    Introduces approaches used by various countries in solving their health and medical care problems, and the role of major international health organizations. Analyzes some of the current important issues in international health.

    Additional Faculty Notes:

    This course provides an overview of basic concepts, principles and current issues in international health policy and program implementation in low-and middle-income countries (with a primary emphasis on low-income countries and the “bottom billion” – those with the greatest health challenges and the lowest level of socio-economic development). The course also provides a multidisciplinary approach to health issues and health programs. Programs and activities of Ministries of Health, non-governmental organizations, as well as bilateral and multilateral organizations are reviewed. 

  • Course Learning Objectives

    Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

    • Locate and correctly cite information on demographic characteristics, health conditions, health programs and health research findings for a country, using multiple sources including websites maintained by international health organizations and scientific journals.
    • Characterize the demographic situation in a country using standard fertility and mortality indicators, and identify the country’s position in the demographic transition.
    • Describe the pattern of disease burden in a country using standard fertility and mortality indicators, estimates of disease burden measured in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs); summarize data on disease incidence, prevalence, risk factors and geographic distribution; and identify the country’s position in its epidemiologic transition.
    • Describe the pattern of nutritional well-being and under- or over-nutrition in a country using standard indicators, and discuss how the concept of nutrition transition applies to the country.
    • List various criteria that can be used to define the health priorities of a country.
    • Explain the strengths and weaknesses of different criteria for choosing a health priority, and develop an action plan for program implementation.
    • Select an appropriate conceptual model or framework to guide program planning. Among these frameworks are the following: problem-solving frameworks; multi-level frameworks of determinants of disease, mortality or fertility; intervention development and evaluation frameworks; and health systems frameworks.
    • Select appropriate indicators for reporting to a funding organization on progress in implementing a health program.
    • Appreciate some of the controversies, complexities and nuances that permeate the field of international health as expressed in the current published scientific literature and in recent publications.
  • Course topics

    The course will be offered in three modules:

    Module I: Defining the Health Situation of a Population

    Module I introduces basic concepts and tools needed to describe the health situation of a country. Assignment One provides the opportunity to apply these basic concepts and tools. We examine concepts including demographic and epidemiologic transition, epidemiologic polarization, burden of disease, health priorities throughout the life cycle, and health priorities through the perspective of nutrition, epidemiology and disease control, the social and behavioral sciences, and health systems. Students learn to use these concepts to describe the health situation of a country, which is the subject of Assignment 1.

    Module II. Approaches to Improving the Health of a Population

    We will begin Module II after completing Module 1. Module II focuses on the process of priority setting, problem definition, and selection of key determinants, strategies, and monitoring indicators. In Module 2 we also examine primary health care, community participation, health financing, global health organizations, and other topics. Assignment Two provides the opportunity to apply this process by developing a proposed program to address a priority health problem. Based on the public health problem identified by students in Module 1 (and Assignment 1), they identify key determinants of that problem, select activities to address the problem, recommend measurement indicators, and develop a budget. This is the subject of Assignment 2.

    Module III. Discussing and Debating Topics in International Health

    Module III will run concurrently with Modules I and II. In Module III, students will meet in Discussion Groups with their Teaching Assistant to discuss issues in we will examine controversies in international health. We will provide opportunities for students to enter the fray and participate in debates about how to best provide services in resource-constrained settings, top-down versus bottom-up approaches to improving health, selective versus comprehensive approaches to improving health, the most cost-effective approaches to improving health, and the effectiveness of donor support in improving health.

    Quizzes. There will be two online quizzes during the course. The first will be availble between Sept. 20-22 and the second between Oct. 18-20. The quiz will cover the readings and lectures from the previous weeks.

    Reading Assignments. All required and supplemental readings, including those from the textbook, will be posted on the course website.

    Lectures: All lectures will be audio-taped and available for students to see the day following the lecture.

  • Intended Audience
    Doctoral and master's students with an interest in international health

    Additional Faculty Notes:

    This course is designed for both introductory-level students as well as students with considerable experience and training. The lectures, readings and assignments are all geared to advance students' knowledge and understanding independent of their level at the outset of the course.

  • Course Schedule

    Please see the course Session for a full list of dates and items for this course.

  • Methods of Assessment

    Student evaluation based on written assignments.

    Additional Faculty Notes:

    Quiz 1 (Sept. 20 - Sept 22)  - 15% of final grade

    Assignment One (Sunday, 29 Sept. 2013) - 20% of final grade

    Quiz 2 (Oct. 18 - Oct. 20) - 20% of final grade

    Assignment Two (Friday, 25 Oct. 2013) - 35% of final grade

    Participation in Discussion Groups (throughout the course) - 10% of final grade

  • Required Text(s)

    Additional Faculty Notes:

    Recommended textbook: Michael H. Merson, Robert E. Black, Anne J. Mills (eds.). Global Public Health: Diseases, Programs, Systems and Policies (3rd edition).  Jones and Bartlett, Burlington, MA, 2011. ISBN-10: 0763785598 | ISBN-13: 978-0763785598 (Readings from this textbook that are required or optional will be available on the CoursePlus website)

    All readings, including those from the recommended textbook, are available on the CoursePlus website.

  • Files from the Online Library
  • Academic Ethics Code

    Students enrolled in the Bloomberg School of Public Health of The Johns Hopkins University assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the University's mission as an institution of higher education. A student is obligated to refrain from acts which he or she knows, or under the circumstances has reason to know, impair the academic integrity of the University. Violations of academic integrity include, but are not limited to: cheating; plagiarism; knowingly furnishing false information to any agent of the University for inclusion in the academic record; violation of the rights and welfare of animal or human subjects in research; and misconduct as a member of either School or University committees or recognized groups or organizations.

  • Disability Support Services
    If you are a student with a documented disability who requires an academic accommodation, please contact the Office of Student Life Services at 410-955-3034 or via email at