Meeting at Strathclyde 14th – 18th March 2010
Many of the diseases that take young lives in Africa arise from problems of poor environmental health for example, diahorreal diseases caused by poor hygiene practices and lack of access to clean water. Increasing and improving training for environmental health professionals is a direct way to tackle these well known problems with a preventative approach. The British Council supported the establishment of the AAEH for ‘the enhancement of the science and practice of environmental health in Africa’
In countries where hospitals are few and under-resourced, trained medical staff are vastly over-extended. Environmental Health professionals can support communities to develop safer practices to avoid the need for expensive treatment in hospitals. A relatively small investment in training resources provides enormous pay-back in community health benefits.
Over the last 2 years the AAEH has developed a standard curriculum for EH across the SADC region, a framework for quality management of EH education, and supported the development of EH professional institutions in participating countries. The Academy is also developing e-learning resources to make professional training more accessible and rapidly increase the number of EH professionals in the region.
Dr Tony Grimason has been a key player in gaining recognition for the contribution that enviromental health professionals make in Africa. He has recently taken early retirement from the University of Strathclyde to continue his work in Environmental Health in Malawi.
Does it work?
The Scotland Chikhwawa Health Initiative, supported by the Scottish Government has pooled the expertise of environmental health workers, civil and electrical engineers to improve basic health facilities in a severely under-developed area of Malawi. Dr Tracy Morse, of the University of Strathclyde has received a number of awards for her work, which has reduced maternal and infant mortality in the area and significantly reduced the number of children requiring medical treatment for a number of common diseases. Environmental health workers are in the front line against the most common basic diseases that take too many African lives. The Africa Academy builds on that experience to extend it to 9 other countries in the region.
The David Livingstone Centre for Sustainability is a multidisciplinary team working with a range of professional and academic groupings on issues of environmental and social responsibility. The environmental health staff within the Department of Civil Engineering have a engaged with developing EH training in Africa for almost 20 years. With strong relationships with HEIs in Malawi, the DLCS supports a number of collaborations between Strathclyde and Malawi. They continue to support the extension of EH educational provision across the continent through the AAEH.