Report on Training of Health Professionals on Climate and Health

Teka, Hiwot; Woyessa, Adugna; Jima, Daddi; Mantilla Caicedo, Gilma Constanza

The role of climate in health is currently enjoying a high profile among the international community in terms of demonstrating climate risk management and adaptation to a changing climate. The effect of climate variability and change on heath is a serious issue for most sub-Saharan African countries. Among the diseases that have public health importance in Ethiopia are malaria, meningitis and acute watery diarrhea. Understanding the relationship of climate and health in Ethiopia would be a tremendous help in early containment of these diseases. In Ethiopia, before the establishment of a Climate and Health Working Group (CHWG), which includes the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Meteorological Agency among other partners, the sharing of information among the two key players was minimal. The goal of this working group is to create a climate-informed health sector that routinely requests and uses appropriate climate information to improve the effectiveness of health interventions. In order to meet its goals, the working group, in collaboration with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), organized a six-day training course for health professionals on climate and health. In this training, the Summer Institute course "Climate Information for Public Health" (held for the past two years at IRI in New York), was adapted and implemented. The Summer Institute has involved four Ethiopian participants, one from the National Meteorological Agency (NMA), and three from the Ministry of Health. They played a key role in facilitating some of the course lectures themselves and in identifying local professionals who could also contribute to the curriculum. The general goal of the six-day training was to build the national capacity in order to utilize climate information for decision-making in the health sector at national and regional state levels. The training was comprised of three components: core lectures, practical sessions, and short recap presentations by the participants. Sixteen participants were involved in the training. The selection of the participants was done in consultation with the Federal Ministry of Health. Participants came primarily from the Public Health Emergency Management Units of regional and federal health bureaus and were chosen for their roles in the decision-making around the prevention and control of climate-sensitive diseases. Three types of evaluation were carried out, a pre- and post-test, as well as an overall evaluation. The pre- and post-test helped to evaluate the level of knowledge about climate and health before and after the training. The latter helped in evaluating the organization of the overall training. Generally, the evaluations revealed that the training helped to increase the knowledge of the links between climate and health, as well as the use of climate information for decision-making in the public health sector. This training is the first of its kind organized in Ethiopia, especially at a national level. Most of the participants agreed on the suitability of the content, design and delivery of the course and showed their interest in organizing similar training initiatives in their respective home institutions. It is possible to recommend that this training should be extended to the regional health bureau level, with the already trained participants taking the primary responsibility of facilitating these follow-on activities with the close support of the CHWG. The collaboration of the regional branch offices of the National Meteorological Agency, with respect to using climate information, would play a crucial role in this endeavor. The most important point is to sustain this training and update its contents accordingly. The future research agenda and evidence generation efforts of the CHWG and its members should also focus on other climate sensitive diseases. Even though participants did not indicate there were always established ties to local universities in different parts of the country, these potential partnerships should be addressed in sharing the knowledge of the use of climate information for public health decision-making and in prioritizing locally important diseases. The training was held at UNECA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, between November 31st and December 5th, 2009. Financial and technical support was provided by IRI with funding from the sponsored project "Building Capacity to Produce and Use Climate and Environmental Information for Improving Health in East Africa."

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More About This Work

Academic Units
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
IRI Technical Report, 10-01
Published Here
June 2, 2010