QED Project Supports Global Field Epidemiology Training: CDC’s FETP-Frontline Implementation Initiative

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in partnership with several Ministries of Health (MOHs), between May and August 2016, completed its first cohorts of the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP)-Frontline course in Bangladesh, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda.  Through two QED-implemented task orders under the CDC International Technical, Operational, and Professional Support Services (ITOPSS 2.0) program, QED has supported the FETP-Frontline implementation initiative in 12 countries including Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, and Indonesia. In Senegal, QED’s Ditu Kazambu, the Resident Advisor for Senegal FETP-Frontline, has worked with CDC-Senegal and the Senegalese Ministry of Health to facilitate workshops for the FETP-Frontline trainees and supervise their training and fieldwork. In Bangladesh, QED’s Dr. Pierre Claquin has served as Resident Advisor for Bangladesh FETP-Frontline since December 2015.

Discussing the successes of the FETP-Frontline implementation initiative in Ghana, QED’s Gebrekrstos Gebru, the Resident Advisor for Ghana FETP-Frontline, says: “The more I see participants improving their skills, knowledge, and attitudes on the relevance of robust surveillance systems, the more I become dedicated and motivated to work for the program. Now I am confident that Ghana has a cadre of front line epidemiologists at the district level who can detect, investigate and respond to any public health emergency diseases and health-related events.”  Supporting the ITOPSS program since November 2015, Mr. Gebru’s role has a variety of functions such as program coordination, curriculum and training material review and adaptation, training facilitation, mentor guidance and performance management, and participant selection and progress monitoring. Recognizing his extensive work for the Ghana FETP-Frontline program, the Ghana Ministry of Health presented Mr. Gebru with an award for excellent performance during the Ghana FETP-Frontline course completion ceremony in August.

FETP-Frontline is a 3-month basic level in-service surveillance training program focused on detecting and responding to diseases and events of public health importance or international concern; it is geared toward district-level public health workers on the frontlines of surveillance data collection, monitoring, analysis, and response.  Health professionals who join FETP-Frontline are trained to be expert practitioners of field (or applied) epidemiology. Many become leaders and managers in their home country MOH, improving surveillance systems, strengthening capacity to address emerging and endemic health threats, and promoting a culture of data-driven decision making. Participants learn and practice the fundamental skills used in frontline surveillance including use of case definitions, disease detection and reporting, summarizing of data using simple tables and graphs, case investigation, outbreak investigation and response, surveillance monitoring and evaluation, and data analysis and interpretation for decision making.  The MOHs can expect tangible results that benefit their health goals, including:

  • Increased capacity among staff to recognize public health problems pertinent to the population;
  • Increased completion and accuracy of surveillance data reporting and analysis at district and provincial levels;
  • Increased capacity among staff to provide a descriptive analysis of a public health problem;
  • Stronger culture of data-based decision making; and
  • A network of well-trained surveillance officers in the country.

Since 1980, (CDC) has worked with MOHs throughout the world to establish and support any of the three levels of FETP (FETP-Advanced, FETP-Intermediate, and FETP-Frontline). These programs are recognized worldwide as an effective means to strengthen countries’ capacity in surveillance, epidemiology, and outbreak response. Today, over 70 countries have participated in FETPs globally. The FETP-Frontline training teams in Bangladesh, Ghana and Uganda are already looking ahead to the next training cohorts, who are ready to serve in public health programs.

To learn more about QED’s ITOPSS 2.0 program, please visit our project page.