Our aim is to move epidemiology's centre of gravity from universities in rich countries toward places and situations where it is needed most: in developing countries, in emergencies and among marginalised populations. We want to see epidemiology used to make public services work better, reach more who need them, and be more accountable. And in addition to medical epidemics, we want to see epidemiology used against social epidemics like gender violence and corruption.
Achieving this has much to do with where the epidemiology skills reside. CIET builds research capacity in communities, among local and regional health workers and in centres of emerging national research capacity.
To build effective research skills, we ourselves have to do quality research. We focus on evidence that can be used to achieve an impact, using a particular mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. A core CIET capacity is large scale randomised controlled trials. But it is not enough to identify solutions. The CIET strategy for moving from research to decisions is to communicate evidence effectively. As researchers and research trainers, we build partnerships in a process we call SEPA: socializing evidence for participatory action.
What does the acronym CIET stand for?
The acronym CIET comes from the name of the research centre in Mexico where the organization began in 1985: Centro de Investigación de Enfermedades Tropicales (Tropical Disease Research Centre). When CIET registered in February 1994 as a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in New York, the name became "Community Information and Epidemiological Technologies," reflecting the broader application of epidemiological methods to research areas beyond the health field. More recently, in South Africa and Europe, CIET has come to stand for “Community Information, Empowerment and Transparency.”
What methods does CIET use?
CIET uses a synthesis of methods that includes household questionnaires, reviews of institutional data, key informant interviews, focus group discussion, geographic information systems (GIS) and low-cost environmental measurement. A panel of representative or “sentinel” communities, usually selected in collaboration with national statistical authorities, provides both the survey sample and an initial point for community participation in the process. A rich mix of quantitative and qualitative data can be analysed for planning at local level, while local data, properly weighted for population distribution, can be aggregated and contrasted for planning and communication at provincial, regional and national levels. After thorough review of existing data on the survey topic, standards-based instruments are designed in consultation with all stakeholders. CIET personnel train local survey teams on site. Data are analysed to determine coverage, cost, and impact of particular services, programmes, and interventions. As part of a process of "socialisation of evidence" preliminary findings are fed back to the surveyed communities and discussed by them in focus groups for their interpretation and proposed solutions. This is followed by discussions of the evidence at regional and national levels. These discussions hinge on how the analysis and interpretation of results can lead to strategies for action. CIET’s methodology calls for cycles of data collection, analysis and socialization for action to be repeated at intervals. Skills transfer to local researchers means they become increasingly capable of conducting the process themselves. Repeated cycles provide the means to assess what actions have been taken and their effects. Repeat cycle also allow a focus on different priority areas in turn. In this way, the methodology provides the basis for sustained, critical dialogue on issues that affect people''''s daily lives.
Where the main focus is on accountability, the application of this set of methods is often called a Social Audit.
For further discussion of CIET methods see:
· Andersson, N., Martinez, E., Cerrato, F., Morales, E., Ledogar, R.J. The Use of Community-based Data in Health Planning in Mexico and Central America. Health Policy and Planning 1989; 4(3): 197-206.
· Ledogar, R.J., Andersson, N. Impact Estimation through Sentinel Community Surveillance: An Affordable Epidemiological Approach. Third World Planning Review 1993; 15(3): 263-272.
· Andersson N and Mitchell S. Epidemiological geomatics in evaluation of mine risk education in Afghanistan: introducing population weighted raster maps. International Journal of Health Geographics 2006, 5:1
CIET has worked on a variety of programmes, sectors, and issues in the following countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Lithuania, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Serbia, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, the United States, Venezuela, West Bank/Gaza, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
From health to agriculture and education, from the impact of land mines to monitoring child rights, from public transport to the justice system, CIET research topics have broadened both thematically and geographically since 1985. Other topics include sexual violence and HIV/AIDS, eco-system health, emergencies, food security and nutrition, appropriate technology, corruption and public sector modernization. The full range of CIET's interest and experience can be best understood searching this site by themes.
CIET’s work is funded by national governments, international aid and development organizations, foundations, other NGOs and universities. Included among these have been the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Coordinating Office for Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan (UNOCHA), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Bank and the Economic Development Institute (EDI) of the World Bank, the Australian Government Overseas Aid Programme (AusAID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), McMaster University, AgriTeam, the Open Society Institute, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the governments of Bangladesh, Canada (Health Canada), The Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Bolivia, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa and Pakistan.
CIETinternational is exempt from U.S. federal income taxes under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. A copy of its latest annual financial report can be obtained, upon request, from CIETinternational, 511 Avenue of the Americas #132, New York, NY 10011, or from the Office of the Attorney General, Charities Bureau, 120 Broadway, New York, New York 10271.
CIETcanada is incorporated under section 133 of the Canada Corporations Act as Community Information and Epidemiological Technologies Canada. A copy of its latest annual financial report can be obtained by writing to CIETcanada, 318 Dalhousie Street #1, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 7E7.
CIETeurope is incorporated in the United Kingdom as a company limited by guarantee and not having a share capital. A copy of its latest annual financial report can be obtained by writing to CIETeurope, PO Box 8636, London SW6 2ZB.
CIET TRUST is registered in South Africa as as a non-profit organisation (NPO registration number 047-420-NPO). The latest annual financial report is available from 71 Oxford Road, Saxonwold, Johannesburg, 2196.
How did CIET originate?
Dr. Neil Andersson founded CIET in 1985 with the opening of the Centro de Investigación de Enfermedades Tropicales, a postgraduate tropical disease and epidemiology research institute in Guerrero State, Mexico, in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. CIET International was registered in February 1994 as a non-profit, non-governmental organisation based in New York. CIET Canada was created in Ottawa in late 1994 and CIET Europe in London in 1996.
CIET is an international group of non-profit, non-governmental organizations, academic institutes, charities, foundations and trusts dedicated to building the community voice into planning and good governance. These entities form the CIET group, a world-wide network built on the guiding principles of decentralized management and local partnerships. Its technical resources are its specialists in community-based research, each with several years of professional service in developing countries. Physicians, epidemiologists, planners, social scientists and communications experts are deployed rapidly to work wherever their technical support is requested.
In addition to CIET’s Research Fellows and Research Associates who are responsible for the field work, a small Support Group is responsible for administration, project development, contracts, matching skills to tasks, and publishing, cut across programmes. Overhead costs are kept to a minimum by contracting with, rather than hiring, those who perform support and field functions. As an independent contractor, each individual is responsible for her/his own professional expenses, including insurance, taxes, materials, and technical tools.
In recent years CIET has developed national non-governmental organizations to house the measurement skills developed through its training activities. The main CIET training institute, which runs short courses and Masters and Doctoral programmes is located in Acapulco, Mexico. CIET has offices in Botswana, Mexico, Nicaragua and Pakistan as well as in New York, Johannesburg, London and Ottawa.