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TB Notes 2, 2004


Effective Oral Communications and
Successful Scientific Writing
Training for Public Health Scientists, Faculty,
and Students in Ethiopia

Do you think it is important to communicate effectively? Well, so does Dr. Tadesse Wuhib (EIS ’96), CDC/Global AIDS Program (GAP) assignee and country director for CDC/GAP’s activities in Ethiopia. As a part of his mission, Dr. Wuhib recognized that little capacity existed among public health scientists, faculty, and students in Ethiopia to communicate important public health messages orally and to publish their work in the peer-reviewed literature – even among those who speak English well. Further, he recognized that the current journal for communicating public health information — the Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, published by the Ethiopian Public Health Association (EPHA) — required a new look, including a new publication plan, vision, and format.

Public health advocacy can be an effective tool for mobilizing public health action and setting priorities, including budgetary decisions. It has an impact on policy and facilitates appropriate decision-making. Further, it should be incorporated into public health academic training programs from the outset. Students need training in public health advocacy, especially as it relates to issues involved in effective oral presentation and successful scientific writing and the publication of scientific findings.

To this end, Dr. Wuhib invited me to “institutionalize” in Ethiopia the course that Ms. R. Elliott Churchill and I teach at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, titled Applied Public Health Advocacy: Effective Oral Communications. His vision was to establish capacity within the EPHA to provide this training in the future to enable public health scientists, faculty, and students to improve the quality of their oral scientific communications and their manuscripts.

The goals of the two short-term consultancies in 2003 to Ethiopia were to

  1. Establish a trained cohort of Ethiopian public health scientists and faculty in oral communications and scientific writing;
  2. Develop the capacity so that the trained cohort could both deliver and teach others to give high-quality oral communications and scientific writing;
  3. Establish a coordinator position at the EPHA; and
  4. Complete the revisions of the monthly journal.

The core element of this capacity development effort included a 2-week training module (80 contact hours) that was designed to convey the principles and practice of dynamic and persuasive techniques for oral communication and successful scientific writing. Dr. Paul Siegel, Ms. R. Elliott Churchill, and I served as faculty. All of us currently teach in the areas of public health communications. We used a train-the-trainers approach that enhanced the ability of the student-faculty participants to participate in critiques of good and bad presentations provided by us. This also allowed for exercises to be conducted by small working groups of participants that facilitated participation by all trainees and provided a sense of reality in the discussion and preparation of sample presentations on assigned topics. During the first week (40 contact hours), instruction in specific areas of oral communication included hands-on workshops (e.g., class presentations and videos). The second week (40 contact hours) focused on successful scientific writing.

We hope and believe the capacity was developed. We have planted the seed, and we will know if it grows to fruition if the trainees begin to conduct the training themselves in the six medical schools and schools of public health. Stay tuned …

—Submitted by Scott JN McNabb, Ph.D., M.S.
Div of TB Elimination

Effective Oral Communications and Scientific Writing Class, Nazareth, Ethiopia, July 2003

Picture of Effective Oral Communications and Scientific Writing Class


Released October 2008
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Division of Tuberculosis Elimination -

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