College of Public Health (CPH)
The College was established in June 1927 as a unit of the University of the Philippines for the training of medical officers in the Philippine Health Service. It was originally called the School of Sanitation and Public Health. In 1929, the name of the School was changed to School of Hygiene; in 1938, to Institute of Hygiene; in 1971, to Institute of Public Health; and in 1986, to College of Public Health.
Several years before its establishment, Dr. Hilario Lara, then District Health Officer of La Union Province was sent as a government pensionado to study at the School of Hygiene and Public Health of the Johns Hopkins University. Upon his return to the Philippines, he was appointed Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Hygiene of the College of Medicine, University of the Philippines. With a resolute determination to establish a school of public health in the Philippines, Dr. Lara, with the help of Dr. Fernando Calderon, then Dean of the College of Medicine, was able to draw support from the health officers through a resolution addressed to the Philippine Legislature. The resolution embodied an item in the budget of the Bureau of Health, the sum of PhP 20,000.00 designated as “Contribution to the University of the Philippines for the establishment and sole operation of the School of Sanitation and Public Health.” In June 1927, the school was formally opened with the Certificate in Public Health program as the initial offering.
The School was organized around the Department of Hygiene of the College of Medicine as nucleus. The building which it now occupies was built in 1931 through the Rockefeller Foundation.
The original teaching force was organized from the available qualified personnel in the staff of the College of Medicine, Philippine Health Service, Bureau of Science, reinforced by lectures from various health agencies including the U.S. Army Medical Corps and the Quarantine Service. Later, from 1929 to 1930, several prominent scholars in the field of public health served on the faculty with support from the Rockefeller Foundation.
The combined Certificate in Public Health (CPH)/Master of Public Health (MPH) was initially offered in 1945 but the Certificate in Public Health was subsequently abolished in 1972. MPH still continues to be offered by the college. Since 1951, the college has offered an undergraduate course leading to the degree of BS Hygiene which was later changed to BS Public Health.
The next four and half decades have witnessed tremendous growth in the development of the college. Proof of this was the rapid growth of academic programs. At present, the College is offering 1 baccalaureate degree and 8 graduate degrees in various fields of specialization in Public Health: Bachelor of Science in Public Health, Diploma in Dental Public Health, Master of Public Health, Master of Hospital Administration, Master of Occupational Health, Master of Science in Epidemiology (PH), Master of Arts in Health Policy Studies, Master of Science in Public Health and Doctor of Public Health.
A noteworthy milestone which the college is very proud of was its designation as a National Center for Public Health by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) in 1965 but was later changed to a Regional Center in 1993. As a result of this, the college is now recognized as the SEAMEO Regional Center for Public Health, Hospital Administration and Environmental and Occupational Health. Thus, students from SEAMEO member countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia) and other Asian countries (Pakistan, Korea, Sri Lanka, India, Mongolia and People’s Republic of China) have been admitted to the various graduate programs of the college. Students from Western Pacific countries (Papua New Guinea, Western Samoa and Tonga), African countries (Somalia, Kenya and Nigeria) and the United States of America have likewise enrolled in the College.
Institutional strengthening of the College of Public Health was provided by several international agencies like the World Health Organization, GTZ of the Federal Republic of Germany, UNDP/World Bank and Fogarty International. This included strengthening of the research and training capabilities in the various programs in parasitology, community health development, and environmental and occupational health. Degree and short term training fellowships overseas were also part of the institutional strengthening.
Worth mentioning is the contribution of the GTZ of the Federal Government of Germany to the College. An agreement was signed in 1988 which provided for the construction of a 3-story CPH Annex building where the occupational / environmental health laboratories and classrooms are located. Upon the completion of the annex building, another agreement provided staff development, transport and research support to all departments.
In 1991, GTZ forged the SEAMEO-TROPMED/ GTZ Consortium in Epidemiology (SEAGTEC) which enabled the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics to conduct the modular MS Epidemiology (Public Health) program. This program involved visiting lecturers from Germany and Thailand and graduated several Filipinos and international students.
The College maintains linkages with both local and international agencies. The most recent ones are the College’s linkages with Boston University from the USA and the National Institute of Public Health, Chiba Institute of Science, Kyushu University and Teikyo University in Japan.
From a school to an institute and finally, a college, the College of Public Health’s cornerstone remains the same: a leader and trailblazer in the training of public health practitioners, scholars and researchers.