Background and programs:
the Department of Community Health was founded in 1964 under the medical faculty with the objective of training and equipping medical doctors with public health thinking and practice useful for a developing country setting where the majority of the morbidities and mortalities are preventable and most people are living in rural areas with no or little access to health services. It has pioneered to start the first graduate training in public health at a master’s level (MPH) in Ethiopia in 1984 and the doctoral program (PhD) in 2003/2004. The transformation to the School of Public Health (SPH) took place in February 2010 along with the changes and restructuring at Addis Ababa University. SPH is organized into three departments consisting of five units i.e. the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the Department of Reproductive, Family Health and Nutrition and the Department of Health Management, Environmental and Behavioral Health Sciences. The school runs six programs: Master of Public Health including General MPH and specialty tracks in four subject areas (Epidemiology, Health Management, Environmental Health and Reproductive Health); the Ethiopian Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (EFELTP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health which is competency-based training designed to improve public health surveillance and epidemic control in the country; the Health Informatics training program which is jointly owned by the Faculty of Informatics and SPH in the same university and an MPH sandwich program designed for stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health. The school provides teaching services on seven public health courses for undergraduate medical students starting from the second and third year culminating with a one-week orientation and five-week intensive rural community health training program at Zeway town which is located 160 kilometers south of Addis Ababa. This training provides medical students with hands on experience in health center activities which is different from the tertiary level teaching hospital in which they are trained. Furthermore, it provides tools to diagnose community health problems and design conduct, analyze, present and report small scale research and conduct nutritional surveys and interventions. SPH also stretches to provide courses to undergraduate and graduate students for institutions under the College of Health Sciences.
SPH envisions being a regional center of public health excellence in problem solving training, knowledge advancing, advocacy including operational research and involvement in conducting international and national community services as well as continuing education on the basis of demand from the Ministry of Health and other agencies.
SPH is dedicated to the education of public health professionals; to the discovery, application and dissemination of new knowledge; and to the promotion of health and prevention of disease in Ethiopia by assisting governmental, non-governmental and international agencies in policy development, planning, implementation and evaluation of public health programs.
It has 25 full time staff of which three are full professors. Of the total staffs eleven have PHDs and four more are under training. It also uses part-time and honorary staff to support its graduate programs. SPH enrolls over 110 masters’ students into its different programs and 7 - 10 PHD candidates each year. It also designs and implements special programs based on needs of partners particularly the Ministry of Health. For example SPH is under preparation to launch a graduate training in hospital care and hospital management in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health.
The SPH and the Ethiopian Public Health Association jointly own and run The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development which is one of the oldest scientific journals in Ethiopia consistently published three times a year and serving to disseminate research findings.
SPH has a research filed laboratory called the Butajira Rural Health Program (BRHP) maintained since 1986 where currently over 54,000 individuals are under surveillance coordinated by more than 33 field staff. The site is located about 130 kilometers south west of Addis Ababa. Over 12 PHD dissertations, 40 masters’ theses and nearly 90 papers have been produced by BRHP. The Demographic Surveillance site has become an attractive resource for international and national collaborators, researchers, faculties and students.
The school has facilities that include two small libraries, computer laboratories and IT support services. It also owns offices, lecture rooms and teaching facilities.
SPH has effective collaboration with the Ministry of Health, HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office, the Ethiopian Public Health Association, nongovernmental and bilateral organizations including UNFPA. It maintains collaboration with Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Umea University, Bergen University, MEASURE EVALUATION, UNFPA, and many others.
Areas of collaboration include, joint research and evaluation, in-service training & capacity building, graduate program expansion and teaching, post doctoral programs, web-based teaching and learning, joint advising, external examination and consulting services.