Bergen Summer Research School
BSRS 2016

Water and global health

This course is to help young researchers to develop robust interdisciplinary research projects in the complex area of climate and health. The course covers the basics of climate change, its effects on health, and appropriate tools and actions to reduce climate-related health risks.

Water tap

Main content

Bernt Lindtjørn
Professor, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care

Participants will learn about climate, weather, and especially seasons, and its association with the risk for food production and malnutrition, as well as risk of vector borne infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. 

The course is designed for doctoral students who aim to work in the management and decision-making process related to health programmes. The course will also give a good foundation for non-medical professionals involved in addressing the health challenges posed by climate change. 

Students will gain an understanding of methods used in the field of climate change and health and will practice applying their analytical skills in this interdisciplinary research field. 

Upon completion of the course the participant will:

  • Understand the principles and basic concepts of global warming, climate change, weather patterns, and surface waters. (This module will be done together with the module developed by the Bjerknes Centre).
  • Understand how climate change can impact human health, especially on food production, food security, nutrition, vector borne diseases.
  • Understand the special vulnerability of public health in Africa and Asia as a result of climate change.
  • Have an improved understanding of the epidemiologic methods used to analyse associations between climate change and health outcomes.
  • Have an improved understanding of the health sectors’ vulnerability to climate-change effects.
  • Learn about adaptation and mitigation policies to manage the risks of climate change.
  • Develop skills in critical thinking for making management decisions to reduce the potential adverse impacts of climate change on health.
  • Enhance stronger and more efficient participation of the health sector in addressing climate-change challenges.

Course participants will learn technical concepts concerning: 

  • Statistical, epidemiological and other research methods to investigate climate-health associations
  • Managing different temporal and spatial scales (e.g. meteorology, physical geography and health)
  • Methods for climate-change adaptation, including early warnings systems
  • Research dissemination, and enhance understanding how climate change policy are formulated

Teaching methods
Students attending this course will receive lectures, group work, and exercises on these interdisciplinary topics. The course will include lectures on relevant topics in climate and climate change and in public health and human health, vulnerability studies, urban studies, statistics, and special tools for analysis (e.g., GIS). Furthermore, we will use examples to highlight and provide detailed analyses of the methods used for such work. 

All course applicants will be advised to study some pre-course texts. 

Examination modes include an oral presentation and a homework assignment.   

Day 1
1. Global warming, climate change, weather patterns, and surface waters
2. Climate, water and health
3. Excercises: Presentation of topics for group work; Epidemiological methods

Day 2
1. Water and agriculture and nutrition
2. Climate, water and vector borne diseases. Emerging infections.
3. Excercises: Climate, water, and food and nutrition. Mapping vulnerable populations

Day 3
1. Vulnerability of public health in Africa and Asia as a result of climate change.
2. Health sectors’ vulnerability to climate-change
3. Adaptation and mitigation policies to manage the risks of climate change.
4. Excercises: Climate, water and vector borne diseases (Dengue fever, malaria, Zika, Leishmaniasis)


1.         Springmann M, Mason-D'Croz D, Robinson S, et al. Global and regional health effects of future food production under climate change: a modelling study. The Lancet 2016.

2.         Watts N, Adger WN, Agnolucci P, et al. Health and climate change: policy responses to protect public health. Lancet 2015; 386(10006): 1861-914.

3.         Loha E, Lindtjorn B. Model variations in predicting incidence of Plasmodium falciparum malaria using 1998-2007 morbidity and meteorological data from south Ethiopia. Malar J 2010; 9: 166.

4.         Hagos S, Lunde T, Mariam DH, Woldehanna T, Lindtjorn B. Climate change, crop production and child under nutrition in Ethiopia; a longitudinal panel study. BMC Public Health 2014; 14: 884.

5.         Admasu K, Debessa K. Action to protect human health from climate change: an African perspective. The Lancet 2015; 386(10006): e31-e3.

6.         Hamlin EC. The history and development of public health in developed countries.  Oxford Textbook of Global Public Health (6 ed). Oxford; 2015.

7.         Shetty P, S. Food and nutrition.  Oxford Textbook of Global Public Health (6 ed). Oxford; 2015.

8.         Kristan M, Abeku TA, Beard J, et al. Variations in entomological indices in relation to weather patterns and malaria incidence in East African highlands: implications for epidemic prevention and control. Malar J 2008; 7(1): 231.