These paired applications from the Department of Preventive Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC), USA, and the School of Public Health of Addis Ababa University (AAU) in Ethiopia, a low income African country, have the goal of taking crucial exploratory and planning steps towards establishing a hub for interdisciplinary research and training in environmental and occupational health for East Africa. We propose to carry out information-gathering, networking, and planning activities using an approach that follows the general paradigm of evidence-based public health;involving evidence gathering, evaluation of current state of knowledge, identification of critical uncertainties, assessment of activities of key stakeholders, and an inventory of training, research, policy and outreach capacity. We focus on three targeted areas;namely, indoor and outdoor air quality, occupational health with emphasis on agriculture, and climate change. Building on the rich and complementary experiences of USC and AAU in training and research activities in environmental and occupational health, this partnership will strengthen the ongoing training, research and policy-making activities related to environmental and occupational health and environmental sciences at various schools of AAU, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Ethiopia, including the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA), Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority (EEPA), and other Ethiopian Universities. The hub will broaden its activities across the region through the AAU-based Horn of Africa Regional Environment Center and Network (HOAREC/N), a partner in this application (which includes one of our targeted countries - Kenya), and to Uganda and Rwanda through USC collaborations. Through the College of Development Studies (CDS) at AAU, will (i) pursue outreach activities through community innovation platforms and ads straight in agricultural health, and also (ii) explore mainstreaming adaption to climate change into sustainable development plan at the community level.
The burden of disease from environmental and occupational hazards and climate change are of growing concern in East Africa, a region already facing challenges of malnutrition, poverty, and infectious diseases. To tackle these challenges, a comprehensive planning process involving information gathering and synthesis, and networking will be undertaken by a multi-disciplinary team from the US, Ethiopia and other East African countries towards the eventual establishment of a GEOHealth Hub for Fast Africa.