WHO designated the Epidemiology Unit of PSU as a WHO Collaboration Centre for Research and Training.

The World Health Organization designated the Epidemiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University as a WHO Collaboration Centre for Centre for Research and Training on Epidemiology.

Epidemiology unit, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University has collaborated with the World Health Organization to strengthen research capacity and produce researchers for developing countries in Asia since 1987. To date, more than 130 international researchers from 15 countries have received training from, thus the World Health Organization officially designated the Epidemiology unit, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University to be WHO Collaboration Centre for Centre for Research and Training on Epidemiology on 26 March 2012. In this regard, epidemiology refers to the study of the distribution and causes of disease or a particular condition in the population with the aim to control, prevent, and treat diseases for the better health of the people.

Prof. Virasakdi Chongsuvivatwong, Curriculum Chairman for International Graduate Programme in Epidemiology, the Founder of Epidemiology Unit, PSU and Director of the Institute of Research and Development for Health of Southern Thailand (RDH), said that there are 3 missions for the Epidemiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, as the WHO Collaborating Center: 1) Provide epidemiology training to health professionals including development of tools for research methodology and data management; 2) Provide backup support for operational and epidemiological studies; 3) Promote multi-center epidemiological studies.

Prof. Virasakdi Chongsuvivatwong received the 2009 National Outstanding Researcher Award in Medical Science from the National Research Council for his remarkable research and academic outputs throughout the past 30 years, including contributions to the society, the economy, and technology, particularly on providing long-term solution for public health problems in the southern region and producing human resources for international-level research for the Asian continent. Prof. Chongsuvivatwong continuously conducted research to solve public health problems in the South since 1985, which subsequently expanded to the international level with far-reaching impact. In addition, Prof. Chongsuvivatwong also developed a computing package using R software for research that has been internationally accepted and is available free of charge, together with books and examples that allows developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, as well as developed countries to have equal access. “We need a new generation of researchers and we need to create diversity in research, including in public health, social science, and technology, with the aim of using our research output in improving the quality of life and living conditions of people in the society”, said Prof. Chongsuvivatwong.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tippawan Liabsuetrakul, Chief of the Epidemiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, has recently inherited the current position from Prof. Dr. Virasakdi Chongsuvivatwong. Assoc. Prof. Liabsuetrakul received the Royal Golden Jubilee Ph.D. Scholarship for the International Graduate Study Programme in Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, PSU, and also received budget support from the Epidemiology Center of Excellence Project, Prince of Songkla University, to attend a short course on health technology and economic evaluation for health resources at the University of Oslo, Norway, in 2010. In the same year, Assoc. Prof. Liabsuetrakul was one of the 20 researchers of Prince of Songkla University with the highest publication output. She was selected as the 2011 Outstanding Royal Golden Jubilee Alumni Award.

Research activities undertaken by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Liabsuetrakul from her doctoral studies until present have focused on safe motherhood. It has been revealed that Thailand has higher readiness and access to health services than many countries in Asia with no disparity between the rich-the poor, or those in the urban-rural areas. The maternal mortality rate in 2009, according to the estimation of the World Health Organization, was 48 per 100,000 live births, which was lower than neighboring countries but was still higher than developed countries. Therefore, further studies are needed to achieve good mother and perinatal health. At present, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Liabsuetrakul is engaged in research on health system, public health economics, and evidence-based medicine for health development and holistic medical care.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tippawan Liabsuetrakul said that “The Epidemiology Unit works systematically between domestic and international partners. Those who have come to study Epidemiology include physicians, nurses, public health officers, and researchers, most of whom were sent here by their home institution or were under some type of sponsorship based on the need for human resource and organizational development. Therefore, our job here is not only to produce manpower, but also to strengthen their home organization. Students have a wide variety of learning needs e.g. maternal and child health, reproductive health, cancer, addictive substances, tobacco, alcohol, communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases and environmental health. We would then make the consideration of advisors based on the relevant discipline and expertise in the respective fields to oversee the student’s research.”

“Our programme is available at both the master’s and doctoral levels. The master’s program is designed for 2 years, while the doctoral program is designed to be completed within 3-4 years. The programme starts from the coursework, followed by proposal preparation and examination then the student would return to his or her home country for 6-12 months for data collection, depending on whether the student is doing a master’s degree or the Ph.D. Then, the student would return to PSU for data analysis, preparing research publication(s) in a peer-review journal and taking the thesis defense examination. While the student stays with us, we try to promote the students to interact with one another, help and share experiences with their foreign friends. We emphasize on research ethics and proper research methodology. On the question of “How should we create a good research process and obtain a valid answer?”, the answer is that we strive to create people with idealism in their work and the drive to complete their task with responsibility and integrity”.

“Epidemiology is the study or process to answer a particular question using the scientific method to proof the answer and lead towards solving the problem using research methodology.”

The Epidemiology Unit is located on the 6th Floor, Faculty of Medicine Administrative Building, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai District, Songkhla Province. Tel. 074-451165

More details are available at http://medipe2.psu.ac.th