Development of core public health competencies for Ethiopia


  • Solomon Worku
  • Makonnen Assefa
  • Tegbar Yigzaw
  • Mirgissa Kaba
  • Yayehyirad Kitaw
  • Tesfaye Bulto


Introduction: Acknowledging the global consensus that current public health training is not preparing health professionals to solve the challenges of the 21st century, the Ethiopian Public Health Association established a taskforce to review global trends and come up with recommendations. The taskforce affirmed that the world is decisively shifting to competency-based education and, as a critical first step, defined core competencies for professional public health education in Ethiopia. In this paper, we describe the process and outcomes of the development of core public health competencies for Ethiopia. Methods (Development process): The competency development process followed a systematic approach: review and adaptation of global competency frameworks, empirical study and national stakeholder consultative workshop. Initially, the taskforce reviewed the American, Canadian and European public health competency frameworks. Through a series of deliberations, the taskforce identified competency domains and subsequently constituent competency statements. Throughout the process, the taskforce sought to ensure that the domains and competencies are relevant to Ethiopia’s public health context, the competencies emphasize achievement of higher order learning, and the competency statements are stated using action verbs. Secondly, a practice analysis study was conducted with public health specialists to validate the draft core competencies and identify education and practice gaps. A qualitative study was also conducted with public health leaders to gain deeper insights about priorities and gaps in public health education and practice. This was followed by a national stakeholders’ consultative workshop to review the draft core competencies. Finally, the taskforce critically reviewed the suggestions from workshop participants and finalized the list of competencies. Results: The Ethiopian public health core competencies are organized into nine domains: values and ethics; assessment and analysis; policy and program; leadership and systems thinking; communication skills; cultural competency; community engagement and empowerment; collaboration and partnership; and education and training. Each domain consists of varying numbers of specific competency statements. The taskforce formulated 87 core public health competencies for undergraduate education in any health profession, 119 for Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH), 104 for Master of Public Health (MPH), 118 for Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Health, and 117 for Doctor of Public Health (DrPH). Conclusions: The core public health competencies are expected to stimulate re-design of curricula and standardize graduate outcomes for the different levels of health training. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2020; 34(Special issue 1):11-15] Key words: Public health core competencies, competency development process, Ethiopia




How to Cite

Worku, S., Assefa, M., Yigzaw, T., Kaba, M., Kitaw, Y., & Bulto, T. (2020). Development of core public health competencies for Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 34(1). Retrieved from

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