U.S. Government, Partners Organize Second Annual Ethiopian Field Epidemiology & Laboratory Training Program Conference in Addis Ababa

The U.S. Embassy helped to organize the second annual Ethiopia Field Epidemiology & Laboratory Training Program (EFELTP) conference at the Ethiopian Public Health Institute on June 25-28, 2018 in Addis Ababa.

The three-day workshop focused on “Addressing Global Health Security in Ethiopia through the Field Epidemiology Training Program” with a goal of advancing the country’s efforts to prevent, detect and respond to global disease threats.

The Ethiopian Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (EFELTP) was established in 2009 with financial and technical support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to develop a cadre of highly skilled public health professionals in the Federal Ministry of Health (MOH) and regional health bureaus. It is modeled on the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service.

The program, which began in Ethiopia with a single cohort of residents at Addis Ababa University has today grown to largest Field Epidemiology Training Program in the world. The program has now expanded to eight universities across the country, including Haramaya, Jimma, Hawassa, Bahir Dar, Gondar, Mekele and St. Paul’s.

With more than 1,000 current resident and graduates of the 3-month Frontline program and the 2-year advanced program, the EFELTP is helping Ethiopia to build critical global health security capabilities by expanding the country’s public health workforce. Ethiopia’s program is now nearly three times larger than the programs in China and Nigeria, which are the next largest.

The conference featured keynote addresses from public health experts from the U.S. CDC, Africa CDC, Ohio State University, and the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) highlighting the key role of the FETP in global health security, and building epidemiology capacity in Africa. In addition, EFELTP trainees presented examples of their fieldwork including the results of outbreak investigations. Topics such as scabies, acute watery diarrhea, measles, malaria, and hepatitis were discussed.

At the closing ceremony, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Michael Raynor acknowledged the role that Ethiopian FELTP residents deployed to West Africa played in helping with the successful Ebola outbreak response in 2014 and 2015. He said, “Beyond Ethiopia, graduates of this program are playing key roles in providing epidemiological support throughout the continent, through their service with the Africa CDC.”

The conference, jointly organized by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Ministry of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), brought together FELTP trainees and graduates, researchers, policy-makers and other key public health stakeholders.