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Anna Seale

Professor Anna Seale joined Warwick Medical School in 2021. We caught up with her to find out about her career in public health and why she thinks education in this area is so important.

What’s your background in public health? Why did you decide to pursue a career in this area?

I trained in medicine, and specialised initially in paediatrics. I then developed research interests in neonatal infection, working in Kenya, and realised my passion was improving health at a population level.

Following my time in Kenya, I completed clinical training in public health, including time in local government and health protection teams. I then continued my interest in international health and moved to Ethiopia to set up a new research programme, to investigate the causes of death in children and newborns in a very high mortality setting.

Following this, I led a research programme developing multi-disciplinary research projects on outbreaks of infectious diseases in low-resource settings. With the onset of Covid-19 , I seconded to the Joint Biosecurity Centre at the Department of Health and Social Care, where I led an interdisciplinary team to provide public health analytics on disease prevalence, health care, vaccine impact and variants.

What is your role now? What’s your involvement in the course?

I am Professor of Public Health at Warwick Medical School and I am supporting the development of the new Institute for Global Pandemic Planning. I continue to work part-time at the UK Health Security Agency as a scientific advisor for data, analytics, and surveillance. I supervise students on the MPH course.

What do you think is particularly exciting about the MPH at Warwick?

Studying the MPH in Warwick gives you the opportunity to understand public health from different perspectives, and to choose to develop areas of interest, including researching an area of your own. This is a great opportunity to think about a question important to you to answer, and to answer it – developing many skills in the process.

In your opinion what are the key public health issues facing the world today? How can the MPH help address these?

Covid-19 has highlighted the risk of infectious diseases worldwide, but it has also shone a light on inequalities in health, which exist in both communicable and non-communicable disease, internationally, nationally and within communities. The challenge, for the MPH and for academics and public health practitioners, is to understand these challenges and to work with others widely and effectively in order to support interventions to address them.

Why is public health education important?

Health and wellbeing are critical to all of us. Education on public health supports the deep learning needed to understand population health, including critically appraising risks to health, as well as potential interventions, and how these can be tested, implemented and evaluated.