Under a unique agreement between Harvard and Japan announced this week, the School of Public Health (SPH) next year will begin training scholars from developing countries to deal with a broad range of medical issues.
Officials predicted yesterday that the Takemi Program in International Health--named for one of Japan's leading physicians--will play a major role in advancing worldwide efforts to resolve complicated health problems in the face of dwindling financial resources.
"It's increasingly apparent that we can't do all the things that we're capable of doing," Dr. Howard H. Hiatt, dean of SPH, said yesterday. "The problem is how to make the correct choices, especially in developing countries where extremely limited resources make the theme of allocation very important for survival."
Two years in the making, the program represents the latest in a series of international academic ventures that Harvard has engaged in over recent years through its graduate schools and research centers.
Several officials likened the Takemi program to the Mason Scholars program at the Kennedy School of Government, which for the past 25 years has helped train Third World leaders in matters of public policy relevant to their native lands.
Current plans call for an initial group of up to eight Takemi Visiting Fellows--to be selected from what is expected to be a worldwide applicant pool of doctors, economists, and others--to arrive for their studies at Harvard in the fall of 1984. At least 10 scholars are expected to fill the fellowship slots in succeeding years.
Beyond devoting their energies to questions of financing health-care in developing countries, the visiting fellows may also explore other international health issues, such as environmental safety, the handling and storage of hazardous wastes and the control of infectious diseases.
Hiatt explained that Harvard's collaborative effort with Japan stemmed from a meeting he had with Dr. Taro Takemi,. former president of both the Japan and World Medical Association, during a medical conference in Tokyo in 1981.
"We shared a common belief that the issue of resource allocation could be a unifying thread between nations," said Hiatt, who completed final arrangements for the program during a trip to Japan earlier this month.
Harvard officials forged the agreement in cooperation with several Japanese educators and businessman, working through the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science--a quasi-governmental agency.
Two large Japanese companies, an insurance firm and a pharmaceutical company, have thus far provided $1.6 million to support the initial phases of the program.
Officials said that $1 million of that amount has been allotted to endow a new Takemi Professorship, which they expect to fill by September 1984 after initiating a world-wide search in the next few months.
The remainder of the initial funds, officials said, will support the first two years of operating expenses for the fellowships, as well as the first in a series of biennial international health symposia scheduled to alternate between Tokyo and Boston beginning next year.
Hiatt said that officials will also be looking to Japanese sources--most likely companies which have had contact with Takemi--to raise as much as $4 million in additional funds for the program. The fund will primarily endow the costs of the annual fellowships.
Money may also be allocated for several visiting professorships and a second endowed chair, officials said.
Harvard is not expected to make any direct financial contributions to the program, but will "be making a major commitment in terms of the resources--classrooms, labs, libraries--and scholarship that we have to offer," Hiatt said. The program will likely be a significant been for SPH's overall international efforts, which have come under fire in recent years but which school officials now believe is on the upswing.
Funding for some of the fellowships may also be forthcoming from the World Health Organization and American companies with business increate in Japan, officials indicated.
Steering committees have been established in both Japan and at Harvard to determine the final structure of the program, to raise funds, and to select each year's fellows. The Japanese committee includes a variety of medical scholars and business experts, while the Harvard committee is composed of professors from SPH and several areas of the University