Keeping Up with Public Health Challenges: Training Opportunities for Practitioners and Stakeholders

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Evolving 21st century public health challenges make it critical for professionals to keep their requisite skills up-to-date. Although in recent years we have seen exceptional health achievements in Bangladesh, public health practitioners must have access to continual training opportunities to keep innovating locally relevant community solutions.

Recognising this demand, JPGSPH established a training unit in 2007 (recently renamed the Centre for Professional Skills Development; CPSD), training over 5,000 development professionals to date. “The Centre aims to expand the breadth and depth of knowledge and skills of professionals at different levels coming from the fields of public health, development and academia,” said Hossain Ishrath Adib, Head of Education at JPGSPH. These include key health sector players – beyond just practitioners – like policymakers, development partners, government officials, advocates, educators, researchers and frontline health workers.

Aiming to serve as a national and international training hub, the Centre offers around 20 courses, workshops, seminars and training every year facilitated by highly qualified professionals. In addition to the School’s in-house facilitators with multidisciplinary backgrounds (ie, medical professionals, anthropologists, epidemiologists, statisticians, academics, social scientists, etc.), CPSD brings in expert trainers from leading international health research institute, icddr,b and others, notably WHO, UNICEF, Harvard Medical School, and more. The School also organises training led by officials from various government ministries, including the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.cpsd-2

Courses are designed around critical and emerging public health issues, capacity building in key technical areas, including use of statistical tools, research methods, project management, and monitoring and evaluation skills. Taking a more innovative approach to teaching, they incorporate field visits to programme sites and hands-on learning.

Direct access to BRAC’s network also makes the Centre attractive, particularly to those seeking to learn from the world’s largest NGO. In 2015, members of Mozambique’s Ministry of Health reached out the School to come to Bangladesh and see BRAC’s work in nutrition firsthand.

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“As government officials, examining BRAC’s community nutrition programme during the short course at JPGSPH helped us understand the implementer’s perspective.”

Sara Paulino
Delegate from Ministry of Health, Mozambique 

The Centre has also led the way in organising several pioneering courses focusing on issues such as the Ebola Virus, public-private partnership in healthcare, and evaluation of development programmes. Trainings on sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) are offered to inspire critical thinking and reflection among practitioners such as the flagship course on Men, Masculinity and SRHR.

“Participating in the course on Men, Masculinity and SRHR allowed us to learn more about how gender and masculinity are connected by patriarchy. This was an eye-opening experience and very helpful for myself and my fellow colleagues as we work in this field.”

Shaikh Md. Mominul Islam
Student of MA Development Studies at North Western University, Khulna, and Community Organiser at Vivid Rainbow 

cpsdfunders.jpgIntroductory courses on universal health coverage are facilitated in collaboration with the Centre of Universal Health Coverage at the School with support from the Health Economics Unit of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). The course on urban health and governance took participants on a field visit to the slums of Dhaka to sensitise them to the lived realities of the urban poor when problem solving for solutions. To continue developing capacity of researchers, courses in quantitative and qualitative research methods are also offered, with one of the more popular courses being for scientific writing. The Strategic Communications for Public Health course shows participants how to apply behaviour change communication to interventions effectively.

These courses intend to arm today’s practitioners, researchers, and policymakers alike with the means to continue making improvements to public health programming. “We have innovative teaching methods, and practical hands-on learning that is focused on developing the skills of diverse professionals, who must critically reflect on public health problems and find solutions,” said Sabina Faiz Rashid, Dean of the School. “We want to ensure that they can work cross-sectorally, collaborate on research, and keep building on new or existing interventions and policies.”

For more information on the Centre for Professional Skills Development and upcoming courses visit: http://sph.bracu.ac.bd/index.php/2015-09-08-04-34-47


This blog was written by Anushka Zafar, a communications and knowledge manager at BRAC School of Public Health. 

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