1.2 IRI Climate Information for Public Health: towards a knowledge system

Monday, 24 January 2011: 11:15 AM
4C-2 (Washington State Convention Center)
Gilma C. Mantilla Caicedo, International Research Institute for Climate and Society ( IRI), Palisades, NY; and M. Thomson and S. Connor

The mission of the International Research Institute (IRI) is to enhance society's capability to understand, anticipate and manage the impacts of climate in order to improve human welfare and the environment, especially in developing countries. The IRI conducts this mission through strategic and applied research, education, capacity building, and by providing forecasts and information products with an emphasis on practical and verifiable utility and partnership.

In particular, the public health commitment of the IRI involves developing, with partners, a knowledge system based on three main components: - Understanding the community of practice, identifying the needs, and collaborating with Ministries of Health (and its research and development partners) to work at the local to regional levels; - Developing tools to monitor, and predict disease epidemics incorporating climate data, patterns and trends; and - Building capacity through the education and training of public health professionals (with partners from the climate community) on the relationship between climate and health.

The IRI is committed to converting research knowledge gained at the interface of climate and health into training and education products which are then communicated in person and in electronic media to decision makers. As an example of this, The Climate Information for Public Health Network (CIPHAN) platform was developed to respond to this need. It provides public health professionals with knowledge, methodologies, tools, and data to better manage climate sensitive diseases toward improving health outcomes. CIPHAN acts as a web portal to guide the learner towards other sources of information, as well as a source of learning resources, such as educational modules and exercises.

Similarly the Climate Information for Public Health Action (CIPHA) Newsletter was created to provide updates on the latest developments within the Climate Information for Public Health network, including the activities of alumni and facilitators, brief meeting reports, news from the health and climate community, and opportunities for collaboration.

As well, the Core Curriculum on Climate Information for Public Health (CIPH) was design to offers public health decision makers and their partners the opportunity to learn practical methods for integrating climate knowledge into decision making processes through expert lectures, focused discussions and practical exercises. This core curriculum aligns very closely with this of Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETP) implemented by several Ministries of Health across the globe and with courses or programs developed by Public Health, Environmental or Sustainable Departments of numerous Universities worldwide.

The Summer Institute on Climate Information for Public Health training course (SI) is the basis of all the developments mentioned above. It was created in 2008 at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) in partnership with the Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) and Mailman School of Public Health (MSPH).

A lot of knowledge remains indeed to be built in the area of climate and public health and the field efficiency of the new approaches implemented is yet to be assessed. For these reasons, it is critical that networking and interaction platforms allowing climate and public health professionals to communicate and share their knowledge and experience exist.

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