GPH in the Field: Ukraine

September 5, 2019
GPH faculty in Ukraine

Pictured left to right: Niyati Parekh, Peter Navario, Halyna Skipalska, Diana Silver, and Jack Caravanos


A powerful example of the partnership between NYU GPH and HealthRight International was a recent trip to Kiev, Ukraine, by Professors Jack Caravanos, Peter Navario, Niyati Parekh, and Diana Silver. At the invitation of the Ministry of Health and Kiev's District Public Health Office, they joined HealthRight staff onsite to provide lectures and workshops on building capacity in Ukraine’s public health infrastructure.

The four discussed environmental health hazards, public health nutrition, and decision-making in a decentralized system. They also learned about the measles epidemic confronting Ukraine, and about its challenges in delivering services and building academic programs.

The faculty were also interviewed on Ukrainian public radio (below), and will continue to provide technical assistance in the coming year. And in an exciting development, English-speaking members of the Ministry of Health will soon be taking online classes to earn GPH’s Advanced Certificate in Public Health.


Faculty on Ukrainian public radio


During the team’s visit to Kiev, they were able to take a fascinating, 12-hour tour of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant complex, which was planned as a model of inexpensive nuclear power. The 1986 accident changed all that, and the site is now visited by over 70,000 people a year - making it even more popular given the HBO series of the same name.




While there, our faculty rented radiation dosimeters (Geiger counters, pictured below) hunting for hot spots, and had fun measuring radiation and listening to the endless "clicking" of radioactive decay. The highest reading where contaminated material was buried was 42 micro Sieverts per hour -- about 400 times the background radiation level in the U.S. However, the short exposure time (minutes) didn’t amount to much additional risk.

Overall the team strongly recommends anyone visiting Ukraine to tour this historic and fascinating site.  For more information on addressing toxic pollution on a global scale, listen to this recent I AM GPH podcast with Dr. Jack Caravanos.


GPH Faculty at Chernobyl