On the first day, Dr Roman Luckscheiter, Director of the DAAD Office Cairo, and Mr Simon Brombeiss, cultural attaché of the German Embassy in Egypt, welcomed Dr Olaf Horstick and Dr Pauline Grys from the Institute of Public Health as well as the 20 participants in the course. Dr Luckscheiter und Mr Brombeiss highlighted the enduring cooperation between the University of Heidelberg and the DAAD Office Cairo, which had organised this second public health course after the first had been held in Khartoum in July 2017.
The 20 participants were chosen out of 250 applicants and came from five different countries in the MENA Region: Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Paralleling the positive results in Khartoum, the high number of applicants once again showed the great interest and demand for such training courses in the field of public health in the MENA region.
The concept was based on team applications consisting of a junior and a mid-senior so that the group was very heterogeneous, with varying levels of experience. While some are enrolled in Masters programmes, others work for well-known international organisations such as Action Against Hunger and the Internatioal Committee of the Red Cross or for organisations, Universities and companies located in Egypt and in the region.
After the participants expressed their high expectations for the course, Dr Olaf Horstick introduced them to the group work based structure of the course instead of formal lectures, using participatory teaching techniques. Dr Horstick and Dr Grys talked about the three steps of making a rational decision – Assessing-Choosing-Changing – and highlighted the direct link between data and decision-making. In the following days, the trainers were able to foster a creative learning atmosphere by encouraging the participants to take an active role in the lectures and to present their group results. The participants learned a lot and came up with their own ideas of how to bridge the research gaps.
In the end, Dr Horstick and Dr Grys picked up the basic questions from the beginning: what is decision-making and what makes a decision accountable. Everyone was able to answer these questions now since the training course had made the participants more confident in the subject. Furthermore, they had learned how to make a better decision by finding their own decision-making strategy.
After the four-day course, Dr Olaf Horstick and Dr Pauline Grys drew a positive conclusion and were were delighted by the motivation and self-confidence of the participants that had made the interactive training course such a huge success.