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Title: Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Global Health
Keywords: Planning and programming
Health systems
Health information
Country: Netherlands
Institution: The Netherlands - Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Amsterdam
Course coordinator: Ente Rood
Date start: 2023-06-19
Date end: 2023-06-30
About duration and dates: 2 weeks full time. No preparation required
Classification: advanced optional
Mode of delivery: Distance-based
Course location:
KIT Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam
PO Box 95001, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Tel: +31-20-5688256 / Website:
TropEd Representative: Lisanne Gerstel
ECTS credit points: 3 ECTS credits
84 hours total:
Contact hours via Zoom software: 30 hours including online presentations, Q&A sessions and 2 hr open book exam)
40 hours online open Q&A via Zoom plenary
and 14 hours self-study
Language: English
The aim of the course is to provide participants with the fundamental knowledge and skills enabling them to use open source GIS software for improved planning and performance of disease surveillance and control. Special attention is given to data-management and how routine program data incorporated into GIS system can be effectively utilized to strengthen program management. Participants will be familiarised with spatial analysis of epidemiological data, risk mapping and geographic access analysis.
At the end of the module the participants should be able to:
1. Explain the relation between health and geography and role of GIS to analyse these relations
2. Operate a GIS (QGIS) and apply basic cartographic techniques to visualize health data
3. Produce and interpret health maps
4. Describe spatial patterns of health indicators and epidemiological data.
5. Apply QGIS software and geo-processing methods for the planning and evaluation of performance and coverage of disease control programs
6. Identify requirements for successful implementation of GIS tools in public health
Assessment Procedures:
A formative assessment of the comprehension of theory and practical skills obtained during the first week of the course will be made at the end of the first week. This assessment includes an online (blind) assessment using multiple choice and open questions.

For tropEd students a summative assessment of the learning objectives will be made at the end of the second week of the course. This assessment consists of a written exam and an oral presentation. Both parts of the assessments add 50% to the total score.

The written exam will be an simultaneous open book online exam aimed to test theoretical knowledge of GIS concepts (60 minutes). Individual feedback on the exam results will be provided on inquiry of a student.

To test GIS skills and ability to correctly map an interpret outputs, participants will have to give a short (10 minute) presentation showing the results of their own project or of one of the case-studies provided. Presentations will be graded by two examiners (1 tutor + 1 independent examiner from KIT) according to pre-set grading criteria, including content related to target audience, relevance and interpretation of maps and applied methods. Feedback will be given at the end of the presentation.

Students who fail the summative assessment, having an average grade of less than 55% will be offered a re-sit of the written exam within a month after the course end.
This course aims to provide health professionals with a solid understanding and hands-on practice allowing them to use GIS in their daily work. The first week will focus on learning basic GIS theory and functions. Emphasis will be given to develop basic software operating skills and understanding of analytical approaches to analyse spatial data.

Specific topics further include:
- basic GIS theory and principles including spatial data formats
- introduction to QGIS 3.x software package
- spatial data management
- using online data repositories and data extraction from cloud databases (e.g. DHIS2)
- data visualization and cartographic concepts
- using geographic coordinate reference systems
- introduction to essential geo-processing functions

The second week of the course will provide the opportunity to apply and extend the GIS skills that have been learned in the first week into a public health context. The course will address specific problems in the field of planning and evaluating disease control programmes and space-time analyses of health data.

Topics include:
- Spatial analysis of geographic patterns of disease: point pattern analysis and geographic cluster analysis
- Geographic access analysis: quantifying health service coverage
- Spatial Multi Criteria Risk Analysis using the MATCH approach
- Digital (spatial) data-collection using ODK software system

In both weeks guest speakers are invited to present applications of the use of GIS in disease control programmes and research projects.

The course will use the following open source and freely available software packages:
- QGIS 3.x open source GIS package.
- GeoDA (; optional)
- DHIS2 (vs 4.x ;
- R statistical programming (; optional)
This module is an online learning course. The facilitation of the learning experience is conducted exclusively via a moodle based virtual learning environment (, which will contain all learning materials. Interaction between learners and the lecturer will be through e-communication (using the Virtual grounds and other tools such as Zoom and Skype).

The main learning methods employed are:
1. Self-directed learning where students make use of the materials posted on Virtual Grounds to meet the learning objectives of the course. Learning materials include:
- Readings; downloadable or scanned articles, eBooks.
- PowerPoints with extended notes, will be presented in online webinars and recorded ‘narrative’ will be made available fro reference.
- Recorded mini-lectures (voice, image & PowerPoint slides)
- Short videos, including recordings of KIT staff, associates or partners on practical examples of GIS applications in public health.
- Self-assessment quizzes. For students to test their knowledge and understanding of topics covered.
- Self-reflection on the learning process and theoretic knowledge gained throughout the course will be obtained from the students

2. Initiating, and responding to, discussion strands on the discussion board. The unit guides include questions for reflection and discussion, in order to guide the directed learning. Students can initiate discussion topics as well. Discussions will be student led. Tutors will monitor the discussions and give feedback on key points. Students can also discuss topics in a chatroom (but will not be required to do so).

Interactions on the discussion board and in a chatroom will enable students to exchange research experiences and insights, ask questions for clarification and give peer feedback. Importantly, these interactions will enable the building of a community of learners; a social community which will significantly enhance the learning experience. Group work plays an important part in this course and each group will have their own private discussion forum that only they (and the tutor) can access and which will be used in the final summative assessment and grading.

3. Giving and receiving constructive peer feedback, in written form or via chat/Skype, on amongst other aspects, formative assignments of other students. Students will be asked to give feedback in written form or through chat/Skype.

Tutorial sessions will be held during students work on their assignment to address issues and to provide guidance to the projects on a one-on-one basis.
Bachelor’s degree or equivalent academic training in either medicine or another field related to health care, such as health sciences, economics, social science or nursing.
or: Participants having completed core course of MIH programme.

Proven proficiency in spoken and written English in form of academic TOEFL or IELTS test. Minimum TOEFL score of 5.5 or a IELTS academic score of 6.0 or equivalent is required
Computer literacy.

Prior exposure to GIS, including practical skills in GIS are not needed to follow this course.
Maximum number of students: 25
Selection: Selection is conducted by the module coordinator based on the prerequisites listed under point 16 of this document. No additional selection criteria are used.
€ 1.730
Scholarships: From 2020: Orange Knowledge Program (OKP)
Major changes since initial accreditation:
Based on the experiences gained over the last 10 years of running this course, it has been fully revised and restructured. The course has been adapted to meet the newly emerged needs and interests of the students and to make newly developed open source GIS tools available to the students. The most important changes are:
• The full course will be given by experts from the recently established Centre for Applied Spatial Epidemiology based at the Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam.
• Training on GIS theory and the use of QGIS will be provided using newly developed examples derived from real epidemiological and public health projects.
• More emphasis will be given to best practices for (spatial) data management. This will include the use of online data repositories and databases such as DHIS2, and web services (WMS/WFS).
• The full course will be given using free and open source (FOSS) software. The course will stop to use the commercial ArcGIS package.
Student evaluation:
In general the module is positively evaluated, students indicate the training to be (very) useful. Most participants indicated the course lived up to their expectations. The most important point for improvement raised by students are:
1. the heavy workload and
2. difficulties to simultaneously learn new concepts from geography, ICT and epidemiology.
Lessons learned:
The interest in the course is enormous and still growing, yet the expectations and learning needs have shifted considerably. The increased availability and familiarity of GIS tools in public health requires an update in students’ technical skills. Additionally the increasing use of open source software solutions in professional settings provides a free yet perfectly viable alternative to commercial software (ArcGIS). This has been addressed in the new course by the following:

• Shift from commercial ArcGIS to free and open source QGIS software package.
• Teaching materials updated to reflect real-life examples from the field.
• Increased focus on the use, extraction and processing of online data sources.

We still experience that participants have very different levels of acquired competence at the end of the course which mainly depends on their own learning curve. Further diversifying our program with practical examples from the field has helped to accommodate the wide range interests and to engage participants. Students can choose topics of interest which allows them to focus their learning to their specific needs. This is expected to relieve their perceived workload as well as the ability to absorb new concepts.
tropEd accreditation:
Accreditation in January 2008 in Cape Town; re-accredited in May 2012; re-accredited in October 2016, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Re-accreditation in January 2019, in Lisbon. This accreditation is valid until January 2024.
IJGI A Spatial Analysis Framework to Monitor and Accelerate Progress towards SDG 3 to End TB in Bangladesh
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Date Of Record Creation: 2019-02-15 08:56:56 (W3C-DTF)
Date Of Record Release: 2019-02-15 14:05:20 (W3C-DTF)
Date Record Checked: 2021-03-18 (W3C-DTF)
Date Last Modified: 2023-01-04 10:40:11 (W3C-DTF)

Fifteen years of the tropEd Masters in International Health programme: what has it delivered? Results of an alumni survey of masters students in international health

L. Gerstel1, P. A. C. Zwanikken1, A. Hoffman2, C. Diederichs3, M. Borchert3 and B. Peterhans2

1 Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
3 Institute of Tropical Medicine and International Health, Charite – Universit€atsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany