ll 47 countries in the WHO Africa region are at risk of devastating acute public health emergencies with over 100 reported each year. Infectious diseases such as cholera, measles, viral haemorrhagic fevers, Yellow fever, malaria and meningitis account for 80% of these health emergencies, while 18% are due to natural or man-made disasters, and 2% are due to chemical poisoning and acute malnutrition. These continue to overstretch already under resourced public health systems with limited or developing capacities for International Health regulations, resulting in high mortalities and morbidities. Trained field epidemiologists play a critical role in preparedness and response to these emergencies as was shown in Nigeria during the 2014-2016 EVD outbreak compared to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone that never had an established FETP. For the last 15 years, the African Field Epidemiology Network has supported ministries of health in sub Saharan Africa to train close to 5000 field epidemiologists at the frontline, intermediate and Advanced FETP. Despite this progress, we still need about 4000 field epidemiologists to meet the minimum GHSA target to cover 1.3 billion people in the region.
The proposed project seeks to strengthen global health security and International Health regulations core capacities for prevention, early detection and response to public health threats in sub Saharan Africa through production of critical public health workforce trained through highly networked field epidemiology training programs
To implement the project, we will leverage our strong collaborations with ministries of health and other governmental institutions such as universities to plan and implement program activities. We will review and document existing field epidemiology capacities in Sub Saharan Africa including the roles graduates play in their ministries of health. Evaluations of the quality FETPs will be undertaken and programs supported with quality improvements grants to address gaps, conduct readiness workshops to prepared for the TEPHINET accreditation process. Exchange programs among FETPs will be facilitated, curriculum reviews, steering committee meetings and case-study development workshops, simulations exercises and pre-deployment orientations for Alumni conducted. Scientific writing workshops will be supported in every advanced FETP to increase the volume of publications. We will support at least 10 countries to respond to small scale and large public health emergencies through: mobilizing and deploying FETP graduates through the AFENET Corp of Disease detectives to support enhanced surveillance in communities, facilities, points of entry, epidemiologic and laboratory analysis, community engagements and risk communications as well as psychosocial support to affected communities. Community health volunteers will be trained and deployed along ACoDD teams to support community entry.
The anticipated impact of the project is reduced is improved networking, collaboration, and communication amongst African FETPs for field epidemiology capacity development and rapid response to public health threats in Sub Saharan Africa, resulting in reduced morbidity and mortality for the population.