Public Health Professionals Received Training in Environmental Epidemiology, Exposure Assessment

Public Health Professionals Received Training in Environmental Epidemiology, Exposure Assessment


Bishoftu (Debre-Zeit) - (FSNRD/EPHI) – October 05, 2023

A training course given for the last four days on Environmental Epidemiology and Exposure Assessment was wound up here yesterday, October 5, 2023.

The organizers said that the training was given to public health professionals at the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) with the objectives of equipping them with skills to recognize and respond to emerging environmental health threats and ultimately enable them to contribute to disease prevention and improved health outcomes.

The training course, which was organized by EPHI and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) in collaboration with the Building Stronger Public Health Institutions program, was said to be part of Building Stronger Public Health Institutions and Systems (BIS).

The coordinator of the BIS-Ethiopia, project, Eleni Papadopoulu (PhD/MPH), said that the training aimed at contributing to the establishment of competent and resilient health systems underpinned by strong public health institutions. “This collaboration is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and implemented by the NIPH,” Eleni said.

Opening the training last Monday, Deputy Director General of EPHI, Dr. Getachew Tolera, said that the training was organized to help build the capacity of EPHI health professionals in environmental epidemiology and exposure assessment. He urged all participants “to actively participate in the training and get experience from global experts”.

Dr. Getachew extended his gratitude and appreciation on behalf of EPHI and on his own behalf to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) and those who have been involved in the training. “I should seize this opportunity to thank, particularly Tara and Lila (Eleni), and my Food Science and Nutrition Research Directorate for making this training possible. I would also like to thank the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) for their financial assistance,” he said.

Participants in the training said that health professionals who have been engaged in the research sector should regularly be provided with similar refresher and skill-upgrading training.

Etsehiwot Adamu is an associate researcher at EPHI. Isolation and characterization of infectious bacteria are her major responsibilities. She said that the training is very helpful for her future work. “It helps me to know more about environmental factors that cause disease to humans. It is good that I have learned some points regarding how to produce analytical data by performing laboratory tests on various environmental samples,” Etsehiwot said.  

She further said that the training has covered a wide range of subjects in the form of lectures within a short period of time. “The most useful part of the course for me was the practical examples and group assignments we did in the course of the training. The way participants were given the opportunity to express their ideas and pose questions also made the training enjoyable,” she said.

Fitsum Hagos is a field epidemiologist National Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) officer at EPHI. He is responsible for investigating the source of disease outbreaks, how they're transmitted, and how to contain and prevent further outbreaks.  

Fitsum liked the way the training was organized and the fact that the instructors were highly knowledgeable and engaging. “I particularly appreciated the methods that helped us better understand the concepts and skills,” he said.

Fitsum said that the training was extremely significant to his responsibility and day-to-day activities as a field epidemiologist. “I am responsible for investigating outbreaks of disease and other public health problems. This often involves identifying and assessing environmental hazards, developing and implementing exposure assessment plans, and analysing epidemiological data to identify associations between environmental exposures and health outcomes.”

Therefore, the training is of high value for Fitsum in understanding the scientific principles underlying environmental epidemiology and exposure assessment, as well as the skills and tools he needs in the sector.

Closing the four-day training course, the Director of Food Science and Nutrition Research Directorate (FSNRD), Dr. Masresha Tessema, said that such a training course is very important to young researchers who face challenges in their day-to-day activities. The training was unique in its focus on environmental challenges like air pollution, climate change, sanitation waste management, and urbanization, according to him. 

Dr. Masresha extended his gratitude and appreciation to NIPH, EPHI, BIS, and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). “I should also thank all instructors for their unreserved efficiency in sharing their knowledge with the young researchers. Hadn’t there been their close collaboration and support, this training course would have never been a reality,” Dr. Masresha said.

The Director has also appreciated the active participation of the trainees. He promised that similar capacity building training would be given to EPHI researchers in the future.

Expatriate and local academicians and researchers at doctoral and professorship levels were involved in delivering the training, which has made its focus on environmental health challenges and priorities in Africa, exposure assessment, research methodology, ethics, evidence synthesis and literature reviews, science communication, and grant writing, among others. 

Twenty-two researchers and health professionals drawn from EPHI were in attendance at the training given from October 2 - 5 2023, at the TK Hotel and Restaurant in Bishoftu Town. (FSNRD/EPHI)