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Communities of Practice (CoP) for Interdisciplinary Study and Action on Climate Change and Health

Communities of practice are associations of people who care about or are passionate about a subject, a skill, or a line of work.

24-05-2023
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Communities of practice are associations of people who care about or are passionate about a subject, a skill, or a line of work. Through frequent interaction with one another, these people expand their knowledge and expertise. Communities of Practice for transdisciplinary Research and Action in Climate Change and Health in Asia was the title of a study recently carried out by BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health to better understand how relevant stakeholders in research, policy implementation, affected communities, and supporting organizations can be better supported to shape, undertake, and use transdisciplinary research, and advance action in climate and health. Throughout the study, the BRAC JPGSPH research team used a mixed method approach. The team was led by Dr. Mrittika Barua, Assistant Professor and Deputy Director of CoE-SISU, JPGSPH. The project’s focal and assistant focal individuals were Dr. Saima Mehjabeen, a senior research associate and Md. Jahedul Islam, a research assistant at JPGSPH.
 
We conducted a survey with professionals from government, non-government, and UN organizations during the CoP study’s initial phase. 43 people from different organizations, including the DGHS, CIPRB, WHO, BRAC, and ICDDRB, responded to our survey. Following the survey, the research team held two in-country workshops with professionals from various fields to gather information about Bangladesh’s community of practice. The participants discussed their ideas and knowledge with the group. Along with the workshops, the team also interviewed the Bangladesh Public Health Foundation, WHO, and EPI-DGHS participants in-depth. The desk review, IDI, and community of practice seminars provided some of the primary working areas. They frequently succeed in involving young people in promoting climate action and awareness. Some of their additional activities are the provision of nutritional supplements, air quality monitoring, food safety assurance, and early childhood development.
 
“COP is the stakeholder’s activities in the field in their own ways and style which when all brought together collectively can be referred as COP. The activities can be both from individual and community perspectives.”
 
They discussed a few of the cooperative initiatives, such as the implementation of child health and nutrition-based projects, community-based injury prevention programs, the establishment of a health cluster by the WHO and DGHS, the integration of the Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI), one health approach for Antimicrobial Resistance, etc. In order to function at the neighborhood level, several organizations tried to agree on a single issue. Prior to now, an evaluation was conducted to determine the actual requirements of the residents of the vulnerable areas. On the basis of the preliminary assessment report, various programs were put into action to increase public awareness of infrastructure development, health and nutrition supplements, and risk mitigation for climate change.

The lack of coordination among the stakeholders, the absence of active participation from pertinent organizations, institutional memory loss, frequent changes in the government counterpart, and financial misuse were some of the challenges they encountered when carrying out these intersectoral collaborations. There is still a considerable gap in cooperative efforts. Along with that, new difficulties like fraud, misunderstandings, abdication of duty, etc. also surfaced. Long-term initiatives had some mismanagement as a result of multiple oversight by several parties. Another reason for poor implementation of climate and health programs is losing institutional records. We need to concentrate on the appropriate coordination among the stakeholders in order to ensure the sustained execution of research and activities regarding climate change and health.
 
“COP is the process of having and sharing a common goal to improve issues like climate sustainability, where they share knowledge and build it together.”  
 
According to the report, CoP can create a number of chances for climate change and health. To properly implement research and programs according to needs, experts from many fields might be gathered. It could serve as a key resource for educating people about climate change, advancing public health, creating examples based on evidence, etc. Through the CoP, it is possible to guarantee multiple services from one location. It can lead to a number of benefits, such as the creation of an all-encompassing plan for reducing climate change risk and enhancing the resilience of the healthcare system. The main benefits of CoP adoption will be the diversity of expert perspectives and the openness of activities. It will aid in the creation of opportunities, the acquisition of proper knowledge, and the generation of evidence. Through CoP, sufficient community support can be mobilized.
 
“I think community of practice should be promoted in the country as it can play pivotal role in decision making. If national level advocacy strengthen, future of community practice is quite optimistic.”
 A health care system that is climate change resilient must be created in order to adopt CoP on a greater scale in society. Services need to be made more easily accessible for vulnerable populations. People in the community should collaborate to collect fresh water and maintain it properly. Government has to pay more attention to how power sector policies are evaluated for sustainability. By creating self-help groups or increasing awareness of the issue, mental health disorders should be treated as seriously as other health-related issues. The necessity of the CoP cannot be disputed under any circumstances, particularly in this era of intersectoral joint endeavors.
 
To execute the CoP in Bangladesh, the government, NGOs, INGOs, the UN, and other regional organizations must work together. Bangladesh’s southern and northern regions have experienced the catastrophic effects of climate change. The main causes of people’s awful year-round living conditions in these locations include cyclones, landslides, and frequent floods. During natural disasters, respiratory disease outbreaks occur. Water logging results in the failure of hygiene systems. The geographical effects of nature are more likely to be what cannot be resolved in a single day. Therefore, individuals from various sectors must contribute their knowledge and ideas in order to develop a resilient health system and lessen the effects of climate change. As a result, communities of practice can be an excellent resource for developing evidence and reducing health and climate change risks.
 


Research Assistant
Centre of Excellence for Science of Implementation and Scale-Up
BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, Brac University
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Md. Jahedul Islam
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