Washington, DC,17 January 2020 (PAHO/WHO) – The Departments of Health Systems and Services, Evidence and Intelligence for Action in Health, and the Caribbean Sub-Regional Programme and, through the Virtual Campus of Public Health of the Pan American Health Organization’s (VCPH/PAHO), delivered four English-language courses in 2019 on epidemiology and surveillance for public health practitioners in Caribbean countries. The courses were designed to strengthen capacities on the understanding and use of epidemiologic tools and public health surveillance in health systems in the Region.
The courses comprise a set of three courses on public health epidemiology: Basic Epidemiological Concepts, Measurement of Health Status, Epidemiological Methods; and the fourth course on Introduction to Surveillance. The courses are taken consecutively, with the successful completion of each course being a pre-requisite for continuing on to the next level.
Approximately 100 professionals from fourteen countries and territories in the Caribbean participated in one or more of the courses contributing to strengthening human resource capacity for surveillance and response in these countries and territories, in compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHR).
The first course, Basic Epidemiological Concepts, provides an introduction to some key epidemiologic concepts, allowing participants the opportunity to enhance their understanding of the fundamentals of epidemiology, and build skills in applying basic epidemiological principles to their work as public health practitioners.
The second course, Measurement of Health Status, aims to enhance learners' understanding and use of common epidemiologic tools, data sources and methods for measuring, monitoring and visually representing the health of a community and to identify and define a basic set of health status indicators.
The third course, Epidemiological Methods, enables learners to synthesize and apply the information learned in the previous two courses.
The fourth course, Introduction to Surveillance, aims to advance knowledge and the ability to participate in the various aspects of the public health surveillance cycle and to use public health surveillance systems to move data from information to action in the workplace.
All the courses are tutored and target front line health workers from the Caribbean working in public health surveillance or epidemiology. These can include but are not limited to, environmental health workers, inspectors, doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, veterinarians, statisticians, among others. While the majority of the learners hail from ministries of health, participants are also included from other ministries and entities involved in surveillance, communicable disease control, and International Health Regulations, such as ministries of agriculture and others. Participants are nominated by the relevant national authorities in each country.
This initiative is part of the support that the PAHO Departments noted above offer to the Caribbean countries and territories in continuing education programs through the Virtual Campus. In July 2017, the Virtual Campus launched the Caribbean Node, with English-speaking courses selected based on content, structure, applicability, and relevance for the Caribbean countries.
Participants’ comments about the courses:
“I enjoyed the course overall, and the discussion and views expressed by other participants which allowed for deeper thought outside of the notes, as discussions were practical and relevant to current issues in the workplace where epidemiology can and is applied.” Basic Epidemiological Concepts
“I have extended my knowledge of epidemiology through this course and with every lesson I am learning something new.” Measurement of Health Status
“I recommend this course to all public health personnel who would not have had formal training in Epidemiology and Public Health. On completion of this course, I have a better foundation from which to contribute to public health. Moreover, I have a greater desire to pursue a Master in Public Health with Epidemiology concentration.” Epidemiological Methods
“Upon completion of this course I now view epidemiology from a different perspective and I will continue to use the knowledge gained to improve my daily work as a public health practitioner. I would recommend this course to my colleagues.” Epidemiological Methods
“This was a very informative course, I have acquired a vast amount of knowledge which will help me enhance my duties within the Ministry of Public Health, it will also enable me to help my colleagues in areas which they may not understand and together we can work towards achieving a common goal thereby enhancing our productivity.” Introduction to Surveillance