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Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programs in West Africa as a model for sustainable partnerships in animal and human health

Karen M. BeckerTauri Group, 675 N Washington St, Alexandria, VA 22314.

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Chima OhuabunwoThe Morehouse School of Medicine, 720 Westview Dr, Atlanta, GA 30310.
The Ghana Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana.

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Yassa NdjakaniAfrican Field Epidemiology Network West Africa.

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Patrick NgukuPlot 4B, Mabua Rd, Kololo, PO Box 12874, Kampala, Uganda; Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training, Federal Ministry of Health, Ahmadu Bello Way, PMB 083, Garki, Abuja.

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Peter NsubugaThe Center for Global Health, CDC, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333.

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David MukangaAfrican Field Epidemiology Network Secretariat.

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Frederick WurapaThe Ghana Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana.

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Abstract

The concept of animal and human health experts working together toward a healthier world has been endorsed, but challenges remain in identifying concrete actions to move this one health concept from vision to action. In 2008, as a result of avian influenza outbreaks in West Africa, international donor support led to a unique opportunity to invest in Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programs (FELTPs) in the region that engaged the animal and human health sectors to strengthen the capacity for prevention and control of zoonotic diseases. The FELTPs mixed 25% to 35% classroom and 65% to 75% field-based training and service for cohorts of physicians, veterinarians, and laboratory scientists. They typically consisted of a 2-year course leading to a master's degree in field epidemiology and public health laboratory management for midlevel public health leaders and competency-based short courses for frontline public health surveillance workers. Trainees and graduates work in multidisciplinary teams to conduct surveillance, outbreak investigations, and epidemiological studies for disease control locally and across borders. Critical outcomes of these programs include development of a cadre of public health leaders with core skills in integrated disease surveillance, outbreak investigation, vaccination campaigns, laboratory diagnostic testing, and epidemiological studies that address priority public health problems. A key challenge exists in identifying ways to successfully scale up and transform this innovative donor-driven program into a sustainable multisectoral one health workforce capacity development model.

Abstract

The concept of animal and human health experts working together toward a healthier world has been endorsed, but challenges remain in identifying concrete actions to move this one health concept from vision to action. In 2008, as a result of avian influenza outbreaks in West Africa, international donor support led to a unique opportunity to invest in Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programs (FELTPs) in the region that engaged the animal and human health sectors to strengthen the capacity for prevention and control of zoonotic diseases. The FELTPs mixed 25% to 35% classroom and 65% to 75% field-based training and service for cohorts of physicians, veterinarians, and laboratory scientists. They typically consisted of a 2-year course leading to a master's degree in field epidemiology and public health laboratory management for midlevel public health leaders and competency-based short courses for frontline public health surveillance workers. Trainees and graduates work in multidisciplinary teams to conduct surveillance, outbreak investigations, and epidemiological studies for disease control locally and across borders. Critical outcomes of these programs include development of a cadre of public health leaders with core skills in integrated disease surveillance, outbreak investigation, vaccination campaigns, laboratory diagnostic testing, and epidemiological studies that address priority public health problems. A key challenge exists in identifying ways to successfully scale up and transform this innovative donor-driven program into a sustainable multisectoral one health workforce capacity development model.

Contributor Notes

Supported by the United States Agency for International Development.

Address correspondence to Dr. Becker (karen.becker@taurigroup.com)