Field epidemiology training programme
- Field epidemiology is the application of epidemiologic methods to unexpected health problems when a rapid on-site investigation is necessary for timely intervention.
- The goal of the Field Epidemiology Training Programme in Viet Nam is to develop a self-sustaining, institutionalized capacity to train preventive medicine staff in field epidemiology in Viet Nam. The training programme integrates Viet Nam’s overall efforts to strengthen capacity for minimizing the risks and impacts of communicable diseases.
- The objectives of the programme are to 1) equip staff working in preventive medicine services with essential skills and competencies for disease prevention and control; 2) enhance preventive medicine services at the local, provincial and national levels; and 3) strengthen systems for prevention, control and timely response to public health emergencies.
- The FETP programme aims to develop skills and competencies that are not easily taught in academic or workplace settings. The programme offers specialized training courses every year through two sets of activities:
- The two-year FETP that was launched in 2009 as an on-the-job fellowship programme for selected preventive medicine staff at central and regional level.
- The Field Epidemiology Short Courses (FESC) that have been conducted since 2008 to address the pressing need for training provincial and district preventive medicine staff across Viet Nam.
- Field Epidemiologists acquire experience and contribute to scientific knowledge and public health service by exploring a variety of public health issues. During their training they:
- Conduct epidemiological investigations and field studies to understand and control outbreaks, chronic disease clusters, health impacts of disasters and environmental health issues
- Conduct epidemiological and statistical analyses of large and complex datasets
- Design, implement and evaluate disease surveillance systems
- Present their work at scientific conferences and publish their work in peer-reviewed journals
- In Viet Nam, there is a need to strengthen national capacity for disease surveillance and response to swiftly detect and respond to emerging diseases and other public health emergencies of national and international concern. This goal is in line with WHO's Asia-Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases (APSED) and the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), and will be achieved through the following objectives:
- Equipping preventive medicine staff and regional institutes with the competencies for preventing and controlling communicable diseases;
- Enhancing preventive medicine services at the local, provincial and national levels;
- Strengthening systems for the prevention, control and timely response to public health emergencies.
- The first objective will be addressed by adapting the FETP to meet the needs identified by the Ministry of Health to strengthen human resources in disease surveillance and control. The second and third objectives will be addressed by focusing the curriculum and field training activities on the needs and priorities identified by the General Department and the four Regional Institutes.
- The enhanced-services component will include: (a) timely and effective responses to emergencies such as disease outbreaks; (b) analysis and interpretation of surveillance data to inform public health actions and policies; and (c) conduct of epidemiological studies on health issues identified by MoH.
- The systems strengthening component will be targeted specifically through the reports and recommendations of each fellow's assignment, and will include: (a) development of guidelines for strengthening routine surveillance and early warning and outbreak response systems; (b) institutionalization of an evidence-based approach to inform decision-making; and (c) the extension of partnerships and networking at the local level (e.g., hospital clinicians, primary health care system), provincial and national levels (e.g., across disciplines and departments, and across disease-specific programmes), and at the international level.
- In line with WHO's Asia-Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases (APSED) and the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), WHO aims to continue providing support to strengthen and expand the capacity of preventive medicine staff to conduct effective communicable disease surveillance and to respond to outbreaks across Viet Nam.
- WHO has been the leading technical agency in supporting the Ministry of Health to develop and sustain the FETP since December 2006.
- WHO staff and technical experts have provided programmatic and technical support to the FETP programme.
- WHO leadership, advocacy and resource mobilization from external donors and partners has supported development of the programme beyond the early implementation phase.