The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in conjunction with Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) and Levy Mwanawasa Medical University (LMMU) conducted a training in Environmental Epidemiology to Master of Science Field Epidemiology fellows at LMMU. The main objective of the training was to increase capacity in chemical responsiveness as a public health service through a combined effort of several agencies in Zambia. Environmental epidemiology is an applied public health science based on specific competencies in field epidemiology and the impacts of chemical exposures, environmental incidences as well as environmental and climate change on infectious and non-infectious diseases. The training was timely as it is important that Zambia has a workforce which can detect the hazards early and promptly respond effectively. The students were exposed to problem solving techniques through case studies involving gold mining, arsenic in water and the local landfill where they identified hazards, possible exposure routes, affected or at-risk persons and possible interventions to minimise or eliminate the exposure to protect the public.
Special to the training was the involvement of the Zambian Ministry of Mines representative as mining is the major economic activity in the country with a large usage of chemicals both toxic and nontoxic chemicals to human health, and a representative from the Zambian Ministry of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) department, both are currently managing chemical exposures in industries around the country. Also, in attendance were representatives from the UKHSA Pakistan team and Pakistan National Institute of Public health as UKHSA anticipates running a similar training in Islamabad later this year.
The module delivered lectures and very interactive group work discussions of case studies. Some of these case studies were developed in Zambia and the team is on track to develop more Zambian based case studies to be used for future trainings.
Figure 1: Part of the class showing participants and trainers.
Figure 2: The team about to leave for Chunga Landfill
Figure 3: Dr Njoku, one of the trainers interviewing a resident of Chunga.