“Starting this week, 12 public-health professionals and climate scientists from ten countries are visiting Columbia University’s Lamont campus, where the International Research Institute for Climate and Society is based, to learn how to use climate information to make better decisions for health-care planning and disease prevention. They’re taking part in the second Summer Institute on Climate Information for Public Health, organized by IRI, the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) and the Mailman School of Public Health.
“The students face an intense daily schedule, packed with lectures and exercise sessions meant to introduce them to computational tools that integrate epidemiological data with the wide variety of available climate, population and environmental data.
“For example, students will learn the fundamentals of using geographic-information-systems (GIS) to conduct spatial analysis. ‘GIS allows us to see where people live, the social, economic and physical conditions they confront and their level of exposure to potential health threats,’ says instructor, associate director of CIESIN’s geospatial applications division. ‘Using a GIS-based model, we can look at the coincidence of regions at high risk of malaria and areas of high population density to design a more effective control program for example,’ he says.”