Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session

Course Description

This multidisciplinary seminar addresses fundamental issues in global health faced by community-based healthcare programs in developing countries. Students will broadly explore topics with expert lecturers and guided readings. Topics will be further illuminated with case studies from healthcare programs in urban centers of Zambia. Multidisciplinary teams will be formed to develop feasible solutions to specific health challenges posed in the case studies and encouraged to pursue their ideas beyond the seminar. Possible global health topics include community-based AIDS/HIV management, maternity care, health diagnostics, and information technology in patient management and tracking. Students from Medicine, Public Health, Engineering, Management, and Social Sciences are encouraged to enroll. No specific background experience is expected, but students should have some relevant skills or experiences.

Background on Course Design (PDF)

Collaboration with University of Zambia (UNZA)

The MIT course is taught concurrently with a seminar at University of Zambia (UNZA) in Lusaka, Zambia. Three MIT doctoral students are in Zambia teaching the seminar to Zambian engineering and medical students. The MIT and UNZA seminars are staggered so that data collection and progress are reported from the UNZA seminar to the MIT seminar and vice versa. In this way, this seminar is in complete collaboration with Zambian students working on similar issues with ownership shared by both parts of the world.


The course is broken up into two modules, each spanning four weeks of class. Within each module, students will participate in two teams (4-6 people each) in which they will work on program development within their team sub-topic. By the end of both modules each team will present their analysis and proposal to a panel of experts. The last few weeks of the course will be focused on polishing the proposals, identifying funding agencies as well as international organizations for program implementation. The last day of class will be the final presentations followed by dinner for the class as well as the lecturers and panelists who contributed to the course.

Module 1: Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART) Access and Efficacy

  • Sub-topic 1.1: Access to ART
  • Sub-topic 1.2: Diagnostics

Module 2: Continuum of Care

  • Sub-topic 2.1: Integration of In-patient Care with other Programs
  • Sub-topic 2.2: Support Services


This is a six-unit class: two hours a week will be spent in class and the remaining four hours will be spent working on readings, homework, and team work. Because much of the work for this seminar will be done in teams, attendance in class and at the group appointments is essential. Students missing a class or a group meeting should contact the instructors or another student to make up the work. Excused absences must be arranged with the instructors prior to that class. This seminar is graded on a pass or fail basis. This is a class where your work will meaningfully impact the healthcare system and lives of people in Zambia, and we expect an appropriate level of commitment.

Guest Lecturers and Panelists

During the term, the following people will assist the class as guest speakers and advisors.

  • Bruce Walker, MD: Director of Division of AIDS at Harvard Medical School (HMS), Director of Partners AIDS Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)
  • Joia Mukherjee, MD: Medical Director of Partners in Health
  • William Rodriguez, MD: MGH, Division of AIDS
  • Jonathan Rosen, PhD: CIMIT, MIT/Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology
  • Saidi Kapiga, MD, MPH, Sc.D.: Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) Department of Population and International Health
  • Marc Mitchell, MD, MBA: HSPH Department of Population and International Health
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples