The Department of Public Health

Department of Public Health (DPH) is a branch of Vilnius University Faculty of Medicine that is responsible for all three study cycles - Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral. The origins of this department go back to 1922. In this year, the Department of Hygiene was founded in the Faculty of Medicine. In the course of history, the faculty of hygiene changed its structure several times. In 2002, while implementing the structural optimisation of the Faculty of Medicine, the Department of Hygiene, the Centre for social medicine, the Centre of Medical history and information, and Bioethical centre were merged, and thus, the Public Health Institute of the Faculty of Medicine of Vilnius University was founded. In 2017, after another restructuration, Public Health Institute was assigned as a department of newly created Institute of Health Sciences.

Currently, the Department of Public Health is comprised of 3 units: Environment and Health section, Medical History and Ethics section and Social Medicine section.

The primary task of the Department of Public Health is to train highly qualified, modern thinking public health specialists that are highly qualified, modern thinking and educated in medical humanities, law and economic fields, and who would be able to: 

  • Collect, systemise, analyse and critically evaluate health information, to monitor the population's health, to identify and evaluate population's health inequalities and its social and economic determinants, to have knowledge about and be able to apply the principles of epidemiology and other applied scientific research, to evaluate community needs based on objective health information, to identify health problems, to take part in health impact assessment, to apply appropriate, scientific evidence-based solutions for public health issues;
  • perform public health safety, health promotion and education, and other professional activities based on the latest scientific knowledge and practical achievements; be able to identify physical, chemical, social, economic and other environmental factors that affect the population's health and welfare, to have knowledge about and be able to apply the principles of public health safety regulations, as well state and international legal acts, to organise, plan and carry out effective public health safety, health promotion and education, health risk factors and disease prevention programmes and interventions.
  • To have professional knowledge on the principles of public health policy, health economics, health sociology, health psychology, public health law, to have social and communicative skills that would enable students to organise, plan and carry out the development of public health policy, activities on health promotion and health education and be able to effectively apply them in solving community health issues, as well as evaluate their effectiveness; to be able to clearly and convincingly present the evidence based information on public health policy, health promotion and disease prevention to the general public;
  • To apply health, public health, epidemiology, statistics, health policy, management, health economics, and concepts and methods of ethics in practical and scientific research work;
  • To plan, organise and carry out epidemiological and other scientific research, while applying qualitative and quantitative research and data analysis methods, to use informational data systems, to provide findings and recommendations for health strategies, health policy, prevention and health promotion programmes, the need of public health interventions and their implementation, according to research data;
  • To analyse, evaluate and provide recommendations based on evidence based on the indicators of the population's health and its determinants; to organise, carry out and control the evaluation of the effects on public health, as well as the evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of health supervision system and public health interventions, such as those of prevention, health promotion and others; 
  • To take up the leader's position in the field of public health while solving public health issues on community, public, state, and international levels.

These tasks are fulfilled in all 3 public health studies cycles.

The mission of DPH is:

  • To train public health field leaders, who would have a broad evidence based approach, values and competences; to apply public health interventions, as well as provide public health service and develop health policy while improving the population's health and welfare;
  • To generate scientific knowledge and make evidence based health interventions that would improve life quality and reduce health inequalities; to evaluate the outcomeson the population's health, as well as the impacts of other social and economic factors on population's health;
  • To contribute to the development and implementation of public health policy based on values, ethical principles and scientific knowledge.

The DPH vision

The Department of Public Health is an innovative public health specialist training school, which contributes towards the improvement of the population's health and welfare, creates new scientific knowledge and helps to apply them practically, trains public health field leaders, takes part in public health policy development and its implementation in Lithuania as well as abroad.

The DPH is an institution that has been carrying out scientific research, training scientists and implementing the public health doctoral studies from 2002. The Department of Public Health comprises of 40 teachers, 6 of whom are professors, 4 - associate professors, 23 - assistant professors and 7 - lectors. 17 of them are working full time - 6 professors, 1 associate professor, 6 assistant professor, and 3 lectors.
Since 2007, the Department of Public Health is a member of the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER).
From 2008 to 2015 the Public Health Institute of the faculty of Medicine of Vilnius University has been implementing the Erasmus Mundus undergraduate studies programme. It was a joint European Public Health Bachelor programme, called 'European Bachelor in Sustainable Regional Health Systems'. It was implemented by partners within 4 countries: Lithuania, Spain, Italy, and Hungary. This programme aimed at covering the gap between health care management and planning on a regional level. The Public Health Institute was the leader of the consortium of 4 universities in aforementioned countries, as well as the coordinator of the Master programme.
In 2013, World Health Organisation (WHO) showed the initiative to found WHO Collaborating centre in the Public Health Institute to address the questions of harm reduction.  Harm reduction is a complex of policy, programmes and services, the aim of which is to reduce the drug taking risk in individuals and the population, including HIV prevention Lithuania is one of the leaders within the region in implementing WHO recommendations concerning HIV prevention in intravenous drugs users. The Collaborating centre addressing the harm reduction was the first to do this out of the 800 centres in 80 countries.