U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at the Field Epidemiology Training Program
Ethiopian Public Health Institute, Addis Ababa
June 28, 2018
(As prepared for delivery)
I’m extremely honored and happy to be with such an impressive group this morning.
Thank you for being a part of this very important program.
The Field Epidemiology Training Program in Ethiopia is a fantastic example of how an initial investment can grow, through strong partnerships, into something much bigger.
This program began in 2009 in the Western calendar with financial and technical support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and began with a single cohort of residents at Addis Ababa University.
Thanks to the Government of Ethiopia’s strong commitment to the program and to strengthening the health sector more generally, today the Field Epidemiology Program in Ethiopia is the largest in the world.
And it’s not just the world’s largest program; it’s nearly three times larger than the next biggest programs.
From the initial program at Addis Ababa University almost a decade ago, we now have residents at eight universities around the country, in Haramaya, Jimma, Hawassa, Bahir Dar, Gondar, Mekele and here at St. Paul’s in Addis.
This is a program that has been modeled on the United States’ own best practices.
It’s based on CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, and focuses on building capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to disease threats.
The training you’re undertaking, and the work you’ll be doing, is literally the work of saving lives.
And your impact is by no means limited to your woreda, your region, or even your country.
Disease is opportunistic: It won’t stop at regional borders, or international ones, unless we stop it.
Right now, the Field Epidemiology Training Program provides a force of over 1,000 residents, between the 3-month Frontline program and the 2-year advanced program.
That’s 1,000 pairs of eyes and ears focused on disease surveillance around the country, ready to identify a threat and respond at a moment’s notice, in much the same way as Ethiopian residents deployed to West Africa to help with the successful Ebola response in 2014 and 2015.
That deployment is a great example of why the United States invests in the capacity to quickly identify and respond to disease outbreaks.
In today’s increasingly connected world, an outbreak in one place could quickly travel around the globe.
We need partners everywhere who can help to identify threats early and stop them before they can spread, and our investments are paying off.
In Ethiopia, FETP graduates are driving progress at public health institutes.
Many of them hold key positions at national and regional level.
And beyond Ethiopia, graduates of this program are playing key roles in providing epidemiological support throughout the continent, through their service with the Africa CDC.
To the current residents and graduates of this program, I offer you my sincerest thanks for your work and commitment, and I encourage you to continue to contribute to this important effort both through your ongoing service in public health and by serving as mentors for future cohorts.
Finally, I’d like to thank the organizers of the second annual FETP Conference and congratulate today’s presenters on their wonderful work and their commitment to improving the health of Ethiopians, and the world.