Arthropod vectors are a growing threat to public health and agricultural systems worldwide. In recent decades, reported cases and geographic shifts of (re)emerging vector borne diseases (VBDs) have increased. There is a critical need for effective targeted messaging on vector prevention and control strategies, and a need to evaluate current VBD prevention and control methods. We must address these training and evaluation gaps to reduce VBD in high-incidence settings.
The goal of the proposed VBD Education Network (VBDEN) is to become a trusted and impactful resource for VBD prevention and control in the United States. The VBDEN will address the goals and challenges of the National Public Health Framework for the Prevention and Control of Vector-borne Diseases by expanding current training networks and using targeted approaches to meet the needs of at-risk stakeholders.
The VBDEN has a strong, complementary, and collaborative team dedicated to training and evaluation. The proposed VBDEN approach is categorized into four focus areas:
1. Student training: Train undergraduate and graduate students to increase capacity for VBD response. We will establish a student training network and develop courses and degree and certificate programs to increase undergraduate and graduate student training. We will expand training to fellowships for students to increase training in professions connected to VBD (e.g., political science, veterinary, pest and vector control, and collegiate health and safety professionals).
2. Targeted training: Develop, optimize, and evaluate targeted education for VBD prevention and control. We will work with an Advisory Board for Vector Education and Training (ABVET) to develop continuing education, certification programs, and remote/in-person conferences based on needs assessments of professional groups (e.g., including veterinary, pest and vector control, public health, collegiate health and environmental safety professionals).
3. Evaluation: Evaluate current VBD prevention and control methods. We will evaluate and improve messaging campaigns based on social and behavioral science methodologies. Our training and partnership activities will synergize to evaluate the operational use of approved VBD prevention and control strategies that are more efficient, effective, and/or economical, and have the potential to be adopted by the intended end user.
4. Leveraging: Work with existing education networks to expand their capacity (including the Cooperative Extension Service, the National Pest Management Association, veterinary organizations, and University-level networks such as Environmental Health and Safety and University Health Services) to provide transformative education and training on VBDs. There is a need to connect Extension, the CDC, public health agencies, and other established education networks for maximum dissemination of available materials, development of new materials, and evaluation of impact. We will create five new VBD educator positions and an evaluation specialist position within the VBDEN to connect and expand Extension services in the region. We will work with other professional groups to disseminate training and education materials, increase professional training and adopt VBD prevention and control tools. Importantly, we will develop materials based on needs assessments to reach disproportionally-affected communities and address health equity.
This approach provides a framework for developing, disseminating, and evaluating targeted training, education, and VBD prevention and control for maximum adoption and behavioral change. These strategies will decrease VBD risk for target populations and increase regional capacity to respond to VBD.