Liberia Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP)
As a result of the Ebola epidemic, the Ministry of Health developed an Investment Plan for Building a Resilient Health System (2015 – 2021). This plan explains the steps to strengthen Liberia’s health system. This investment plan helps advance the National Health Policy and Plan (2011 – 2021). A high priority of the Investment Plan is to strengthen epidemic preparedness, surveillance, and response; this will help counties and districts build the skills to identify early signals of an epidemic and respond faster.
To help achieve this priority, the Ministry of Health started the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) in 2015. This program helps national, district and county surveillance officers, as well as other public health workers, to learn new epidemiology skills and techniques for investigating diseases and other health-related events. The Ministry of Health worked with Emory University from the United States, the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stand up the program in the first 2 years. Currently, the National Public Health in Liberia (NPHIL) is now the custodian of the program, in partnership with AFENET and CDC. This is part of a 5- year cooperative agreement funded by the CDC.
CDC’s Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) has three tiers of training: frontline, intermediate, and advanced. FETP Frontline training is a three-month in-service program that focuses on detection of and response to disease or events of public health importance. FETP Frontline was started in Liberia in August 2015 and aims to improve the surveillance, epidemiology, response, and scientific communication skills of public health workers at district, county, and national levels. Those who complete the training receive a Certificate of Graduation signed by the Liberian Honorable Minister of Health and CDC.
The FETP Intermediate commenced in April 2017 with an implementation workshop of all stakeholders in February 2017. FETP-Intermediate is a 9-month training program comprised of four in-person workshops and applied field epidemiology work at their site of employment. Those who complete this program will gain skills in disease surveillance, outbreak investigation and response, data quality and management, observational studies, and public health communication.
FETP Intermediate Benefits
- Increased capacity among staff to recognize public health problems pertinent to the population
- Increased completion, timeliness, and accuracy of surveillance data reporting and analysis at regional and local levels
- Increased capacity among staff to provide a descriptive analysis of a public health problem
- Stronger culture of data-based decision making
- A network of well-trained surveillance officers in the country
- Surveillance officers will be better equipped for early detection and control of outbreaks
- There will be increased capacity for research to improve surveillance systems
- Sustainability of the FETP will be enhanced by increased capacity for facilitation and mentorship for the frontline FETP
- Findings from group studies conducted can guide policy
- Creates opportunity for health workers to build a career in field epidemiology
- Attainment of Global Health Security Agenda
FETP Frontline Skills
- Use of case definitions
- Disease detection
- Data visualization
- Case investigation
- Outbreak investigation and response
- Surveillance monitoring and evaluation
- Data analysis
- Data interpretation