The United States Government, in collaboration with Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), and the World Health Organization celebrated the graduation of 110 health professionals from the Ethiopian Federal Police Commission and Ministry of National Defense, following their completion of the Frontline Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), on April 18, 2019.
FETP is a 3-month in-service training that invests in the capacity to detect, prevent, and respond to outbreaks of diseases and other public health concerns. The program is the result of collaborative support from the funding by Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and with technical support by U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), EPHI and WHO.
At the ceremony, CDC Ethiopia Country Director Dr. Christine Ross acknowledged the work of the graduates for their ongoing services in public health and how this program will enable them to better respond to diseases and events of public health importance or international concern among Ethiopian Woredas (i.e. districts). She said “your impact is by no means limited to your Ethiopian National Defense Force and Federal Police medical facilities and bases, or to your region, or even your country; now the whole world will have an additional 112 pairs of eyes to better monitor and assess the quality of public health surveillance—and ultimately make the world safer than yesterday.”
Similarly, the effort involved collaboration across the Ethiopian government including the Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of Peace and Ministry of Health. The involvement of these Ministries will help to improve information-sharing and collaboration in the identification of and response to public health threats, building a truly integrated health response capacity in Ethiopia for the first time.
The graduation marks the first completion of this kind of program in Africa. The FETP was launched with technical and financial support from CDC and WHO. It is an outgrowth of earlier investments by CDC to develop highly skilled public health professionals at the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and regional health bureaus, modeled on CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. It leverages experience from previous Ebola outbreaks on the continent, highlighting the importance of training working-level health professionals in frontline responses for effective epidemic control. Participants in FETP also benefitted from DTRA’ Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP), which focuses on Biosafety, Biosecurity and Biosurveillance.