Medical University of Varna (BULGARIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN20 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 329-337
ISBN: 978-84-09-17979-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2020.0155
Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Background: Education in public health (PH) has been spreading exponentially faster in Europe in the last 20 years. PH is a connective domain, which integrates the various aspects of medical education, epidemiology, engineering, economics, environmental sciences, policy, anthropology, etc. Consequently, PH education is a broad field, both in the content and in the form of training. Coming from this background, the term “PH human capacity building” (PHHCB) has been coined. PHHCB is the post-initial education and training of students and health professionals, and other trainees in the science and practice of PH.
The current analysis is based on a Master of PH training, on research, on field and educational experiences, which have started in 1999 at Maastricht University, the Netherlands. Nowadays, the demographic transitions, educational trends and technological innovations demand new “road maps” for PHHCB “navigation”.

The aim of this paper is to conduct an exploratory inquiry of public health education in Bulgaria in the context of the PH evolution. The following research objectives are formulated:
1) to investigate the field of PH at an European and Bulgarian context;
2) to analyse the PHHCB developments;
3) to formulate PH-strategies, an indivisible part of which is the educational strengthening of the 21st Century PH workforce.

1) Historiographical method - a critical examination of scientific sources related to PH and education;
2) Qualitative participatory action approach;
3) A situational analysis through the classical SWOT tool in order to envision strategies.

Meaning and mission of PH: Europe is the cradle of the modern PH. A periodization of the modern PH history is proposed in order to provide an analytical basis for the investigation of the PHHCB in Bulgaria. The 21st Century PH evolution demands a wider educational PH agenda for new competences and skills.

PHHCB environments and educational developments: Situational analysis assessed the support, threats and the strengths/weaknesses of PHHCB in Bulgaria. The PH labour market is expanding. As a result, in 2020 the specialties at the PH Faculty, Medical University of Varna are 13 as opposed to in 1999 there were only 3. Courses like "Optometry" and "Speech therapy" are very attractive for the students.

PH in the 21st Century: The three-dimensional national PH-strategy is proposed. The key PH-priorities are: 1) e-Health; 2) integrated approaches to health; and 3) PH workforce investment through education. PHHCB should reflect innovation, but preserve tradition because technology can not entirely substitute the human factor.

Discussion and conclusions: The fourth industrial revolution is gaining traction and the orthodox educational models need to be adapted accordingly. Furthermore, the emerging public health challenges, like the COVID-19 outbreak, demand immediate supply of the classical hygiene trainings through innovative educational channels. The current pandemic underscores the pivotal role of the public health professionals and the urgent need to strengthen the global PH workforce through investment in education. All of this creates imperatives for constant monitoring and updating of PHHCB in Bulgaria. It is important that the new PH educational programmes should continue to follow the humanistic mission of PH to promote, protect, prevent and educate for better health.
Higher education, public health, human resources, strategies, 21st century skills, Bulgaria.