What is CARMEN school?

CARMEN School is a generic name for a series of trainings and public health activities that build partnerships between schools of public health (SPH), public health agencies, and ministries of health (MOH) at the country level.

Why was it established?

Human resources are a crucial component of any public health system, and the health workforce can benefit from continuing education opportunities to improve skills and knowledge to develop, implement and evaluate NCD prevention initiatives. The Schools of Public Health are considered critical partners in human resource development.

One important aspect to the success of the CARMEN School model is the commitment and collaboration between the ministries of health, other governmental and non-governmental organizations, and the overall educational regulatory institutions. Cooperation at multiple levels ensured greater institutionalization and on-going commitment to the continuation of the trainings.

What are the CARMEN school objectives?

Short-Term Objectives

      • • To develop, implement, and evaluate training courses on integrated NCD prevention for primary health care professionals, community workers and community leaders
      • • To establish a technical exchange program with prevention centers in the United States to support continuous improvement of the CARMEN School.
      • • To establish a small grant research program to support research on the effectiveness of health promotion programs for NCD prevention

Long-Term Objectives

  • • To develop the necessary competencies to enable public health workers and communities to confront the challenges of NCD prevention and health promotion initiatives.
  • • To strengthen the collaboration between Schools of Public Health and public health agencies in supporting of NCD prevention and control.

What are the CARMEN school initiatives?

As of now, five courses as part of CARMEN school have been offered and evaluated through LAC. They are part of collaboration with the network of US Preventive Research Centers (PRCs), situated in 30 universities in the US:

  • Evidence Based Public Health Course (EBPH) was originated by the PRC at St. Louis University, (offered so far in Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Jamaica, Guatemala, and Colombia). Its aim is to provide valuable tools and information about EBPH to public health practitioners. The training addresses many of the core competencies for public health professionals adopted by the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice. Through lectures, practice exercises, and case studies, the course takes a “hands-on” approach and emphasizes information that is readily available to busy practitioners.
  • Physical Activity and Public Health Course (PAPH) was originated by the PRC at South Carolina University (offered so far in Costa Rica, Chile and Guatemala). The long-term goal of the PAPH course is to improve the public’s health by increasing the number of public health researchers and practitioners who have expertise in the relationship between physical activity and health in populations.
  • Social Marketing Course (SM) was originated by the PRC at South Florida University (has been offered so far in Panama, Mexico, Guatemala and Chile). The SM course is aimed at academics and professionals from the health, food science, agronomic science, and social science sectors, as well as at professionals working in business schools and in charge of marketing in food companies, who are interested in taking definitive steps in adopting effective strategies to promote a better quality of life. Select link for more information.
  • Policy Analysis and Decision Making Course (PADM) was developed with the World Bank (Courses offered so far in Barbados and El Salvador (1-day seminar).
  • Evidence Based Illness Care Course (EBCIC) was originated with the University of Miami (offered so far in Miami). It is appropriate for health professionals involved with chronic disease management and quality of care at different levels of the public health system. Its objective is to provide scientific evidence to reorient the primary care systems to better address the chronic disease pandemic. Its curriculum will introduce students to ways in which health systems can be reoriented to better manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Select link for more information.

As of now, CARMEN School included 27 courses in 14 countries, 2 sub-regions and 2 regional level with over 800 professionals participating.

The evaluation of the EBPH and PAPH short courses was conducted by independent consultants in 2007. The results from the evaluations indicated that the training courses were well-received by public health professionals and were viewed as an effective tool for education of the issues around the prevention of NCDs. The recommendations from the evaluation were used to improve the organization and content of the courses.

To learn more about CARMEN School select this link.

Workshops and trainings:

Policy-Makers’ Workshop, El Salvador, 11/2008:

This was a joint activity of the CARMEN Policy Observatory and the CARMEN School and served as an introduction to the issue of public policies and decision-making with emphasis on health, within the context of surveillance, prevention, control of chronic Non Communicable Diseases (CNCDs). The goal was to familiarize the participants with the situation in the Americas with respect to CNCDs and the Policy Observatory, as well as with existing regional initiatives for their monitoring, prevention, and control.. Furthermore, the workshop sought to familiarize the participants with several concepts, frames of reference, and instruments related to the design and analysis of applicable public policies at different governmental levels and functions.

Social Marketing & Healthy Lifestyles, 7-8/2008, Mexico:

The course on Introduction to Social Marketing and Its Application to Healthy Lifestyles is part of the CARMEN School and the Summer Program of the Institute of Public Health of Mexico (Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública / INSP). The 40-hour course ran for 5 days, with 27 participants from different backgrounds: professionals from the Secretariat of Health of Mexico (Secretaría de Salud de México), departments of health policy and promotion, graduate students from the INSP in the area of nutrition, instructors from the university, and other interested parties in social marketing techniques. The profile of the participants was diverse, ranging from physicians, sociologists, psychologists, to nutritionists and lawyers. The main issues discussed were, obesity and overweight among children, Physical activity, Diabetes, Cervical cancer and Limiting sale of junk food and products from vending machines.

Physical Activity Training, 2007, Guatemala:

This CARMEN school course was dedicated to the topic on Physical Activity and Public Health, in accordance with the WHO global program Move for Health. The course included participants from various health districts (Xela and Guatemala City) of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance, (MSPAS), as well as from several universities (Marro, Galileo, del Valle, Rafael Landívar, San Carlos) and municipalities, e.g. various CARMEN demonstration areas (Mixco, Villa Nueva, and Guatemala City), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the area of diabetes and heart health, and the private sector. Physical activity was presented as a protective factor for health against chronic diseases. The aspects of urban planning and social and individual responsibility were discussed, as well as tools for monitoring and evaluating physical activity (PA). A session was also held on planning PA projects.

Policy-Makers’ Workshop, Eastern Caribbean, 2007:

The goal of this workshop was to enhance the skills and competencies of the participants in these fields of knowledge and practice as analysts and advisors. The concepts and methods shared were applicable to different levels of government; and while the emphasis was on chronic Non Communicable Diseases , they were also germane to the design of public health policies in general. The topics discussed highlighted the relevance of agenda-setting in turbulent and complex political environments, models of implementation and evaluation, strategic thinking and foresight and—to a minor degree—policy change through advocacy. The instruments of economic evaluation were showcased as critical tools for policy analysis.

Symposium Report—Lay Health Workers (Health Promoters) Project: Community Mobilization to Improve Cardiovascular Health in the Americas, 10/2005, Chile:

The goal of this symposium was to exchange information on emerging models for programs that rely on health promoters to carry out community interventions as well as to build a consensus on the concept and potential of health promoters and the difficulties inherent in promoting, preventing, and controlling the risks of developing CVD in the Americas. Key areas of discussion included an analysis of the strategies, best practices and emerging criteria necessary to implement and evaluate projects led by health promoters. Health promoters are regarded as important participants, given their capacity to reach people and communities with information and skills appear to have greater potential for eliciting changes in behavior than classical health interventions, because they operate within the peoples’ daily reality, gain their trust, and serve as a recognizable model within reach. ensuring the structural, technical, and financial sustainability of programs.

The core elements established for achieving successful results in cardiovascular health projects involving health promoters were:

  • • adequate promoter selection and training;
  • • the availability of a core set of systematized support materials;
  • • ongoing monitoring and positive reinforcement of promoters;
  • • evaluation of promoters and the results of their interventions;
  • • the insertion of promoters’ activities within the broader context of health and extrasectoral strategies; and
  • • encouraging a cultural change among health professionals toward embracing and supporting these programs.

View report of Symposium here


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