In the News: Harvard-Public Health Institute (PHI) "Twinning" students win Harvard award

June 11, 2014
Dr. Parveen Parmar and PHI-Harvard Twinning Course students studying outside on the Myanmar-Thailand border.

Congratulations to Harvard School of Public Health Twinning Course students, recipients of the 2014 James H. Ware Award for their field collaboration with Public Health Institute (PHI) students to improve health in refugee, disaster and conflict-affected communities on the Myanmar-Thailand border.

The award, given annually at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) graduation, recognizes the commitment and achievement of a student or group in advancing the cause of public health practice while enrolled at HSPH, and demonstrating dedication, dignity, vision, and with resulting improvements in a healthier community.

"This honor is shared equally by all members of the Harvard-PHI Twinning Course team. It's an acknowledgment of the work of the students, but also of the entire team of public health leaders and teachers who supported them," says Dr. Parveen Parmar, faculty at the Humanitarian Academy at Harvard, and lead faculty for the Twinning course.

More than 140,000 refugees live in camps along the Myanmar-Thailand border, a conflict affected region with an acute shortage of health services and trained health workers. Young adult refugees — many of whom have spend their entire lives in the camps — have very limited higher education opportunities. The goal of the Public Health Institute is to provide experiential training to improve individual skills and community-based health services.

In January eight HSPH graduate students arrived in Umpiem Mai refugee camp, spending three weeks with 21 second-year PHI students. PHI is a one of the world's only junior-college level public health programs based at a refugee camp, with curriculum developed by Community Partners International and our partner the Karen Refugee Committee Education Entity (KRCEE).

The award is an additional honor for this year's 21 PHI graduates, who gathered, wearing cap and gown, at the Umphiem Mai camp hall in April, 2014 to receive their diplomas. The graduates will spend the next six months interning at local health based organizations, including CPI and our partners, the Karen Department of Health and Welfare, Back Pack Health Worker Team and the Mae Tao Clinic. 

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