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Tsinghua, Vanke team up to create school of public health

By Zou Shuo | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-04-03 10:37
Tsinghua University and China Vanke Co join hands to establish the Vanke School of Public Health on April 2, 2020. [Photo/Official Sina Weibo account of Tsinghua University]

Tsinghua University and China Vanke Co have joined hands to establish the Vanke School of Public Health on Thursday, aiming to boost talent training and scientific research and also further enhance China's capabilities in public health management.

To support the development of the school, a special fund has been set up with a donation from Vanke of 200 million Vanke shares, valued at around 5.3 billion yuan ($748 million), to the Tsinghua University Education Foundation, the university said. 

The school only enrolls postgraduate students in four research fields - preventative medicine, comprehensive healthcare, big data in healthcare, and public health policy and management - according to the university.

In the next five to 10 years, the school will provide support for China's epidemic control, vaccine development and decisive think tanks related to major public health policymaking, it said. 

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sent a video message congratulating the establishment of the school.

"Public health is a science of and for society. You have already begun making progress on COVID-19 research into vaccines, testing and epidemic prevention systems," he said. "I look forward to future collaboration between the School of Public Health and WHO as we strive together to keep the world safe through research and by strengthening our health and preparedness systems.".

Chen Xu, Party secretary of Tsinghua University, said that it was of extraordinary significance to hold the online ceremony amid the global fight against the COVID-19 epidemic and right before World Health Day, which falls on April 7.

The school will make full use of Tsinghua's academic strengths and advantages and its talent pool to devote itself to improving China's public health system and global health and welfare, she said. 

Vanke founder Wang Shi, who was named honorary chairman of the board of trustees, said that this was the dream-come-true moment for all employees of Vanke and that its donation to the public health of humankind is worthwhile.

Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, former director-general of the WHO, was named the inaugural dean of the school.

The establishment of the school could not have been better timed, as epidemic prevention and control requires the concerted efforts of all countries in the world, she said. 

"The disease has made us better understand the importance of international cooperation and building a community of a shared future for humankind. The school is a rising star in the night of this pandemic," she added.

Tsinghua President Qiu Yong said the university's decision to establish the School of Public Health reflected Tsinghua's commitment to meet China's major strategic needs and address global public health issues.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a disaster on a global scale. Universities are the lighthouse of human civilization, disseminating knowledge and culture to posterity, and illuminating a world improved by our individual and collective efforts. Facing such a grave challenge that concerns the future of mankind, universities must shoulder our due responsibilities," said Qiu.

Universities have the responsibilities of conducting research to combat the pandemic, overcoming difficulties to fulfill our educational commitment, and promoting global exchange and cooperation with an open and inclusive approach, he said. 

After the outbreak of SARS, Tsinghua set up a research base for China's emergency management with the support of the Beijing Municipal government.

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