BY DAWDA BALDEH
Thirty-three individuals from different institutions recently completed a 3-month in-service program focused on detecting and responding to diseases and events of public health importance of national and international concern.
Field Epidemiology Training Program for Frontline Surveillance (FETP-Frontline) is a 3-month in-service program focused on detecting and responding to diseases and events of public health importance of national and international concern.
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.
Participants spend up to 12 days in three workshops in the classroom; they spend the remaining 8–10 weeks back at their jobs, where they conduct field projects to practice, implement, and reinforce what they have learned.
Karamba F. Keita the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health said Epidemiology is the distribution and determinants of health-related states and events in specified populations and the application of that study to the control and prevention of health problems.
“In large part, is a collection of methods for finding things out on the basis of scanty evidence, and this by its nature is difficult. Therefore, I have come to appreciate the great efforts of the cohort 8 trainees and the FETP faculty called GamFETP that has brought these 35 graduates up to this day,” he said.
He said the graduation ceremony is another history made in the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) in The Gambia, marking another great achievement by this ministry in the development and capacity building of her public health workforce and surveillance officers at this critical stage of current Covid-19 national response.
“For couple of years, we have been privileged to work with the WAHO and AFENET to implement the FETP programs which has been established in the country since 2016,” he said.
PS Keita said FETP is a three-tiered “pyramid” model of training that was developed by US CDC to improve the surveillance, epidemiology investigation, response, and scientific communication skills of public health workers at each level of the health system.
“The three-tiered “pyramid” model consists of FETP-Frontline, FETP-Intermediate, and FETP-Advanced courses. The Gambia has begun the implementation of the Frontline tier, with the hope of continued support from partners, we can also begin implementation of FETP-Intermediate as done in many West African countries now,” he said.
He said that the adequate and effective training of public health workforce through the FETP model has shown to not only be relevant in disease spread intervention, but also in keeping the populace safe.