Those who regularly read our blog will remember the early days when we requested a field epidemiology training program in Nigeria to train health workers in Nigeria to respond to infectious disease outbreaks in that country. We were delighted to meet the team at last year’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Conference in Atlanta, Atlanta, and introduced ourselves as fellows of the Nigerian Field Epidemiology Laboratory and Training Program (NFELTP).
NFELTP is a service-oriented training program in applied epidemiology, public health laboratory practice and veterinary epidemiology.
Established in 2008, NFELTP is managed by the Federal Ministry of Health of Nigeria (FMOH). Most of the funds were obtained through grants from the US Centers for Disease Control. The program is implemented in collaboration with the University of Ibadan and Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria. It trains specialists in field epidemiology, public health laboratories and veterinary epidemiology for senior positions in the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA). As part of their training, residents provide services to the ministries through long-term field placements. They train in practice by conducting research on infectious disease outbreaks under the supervision of a senior colleague.
The NFELTP is based on similar programs that have been established in more than 30 other countries since 1980. The first field epidemiological track is the two-year training program of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Africa, maturation programs exist in Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa, among others. African programs cooperate with each other
In addition, the NFELTP is the first applied epidemiology program of its kind to offer a veterinary pathway. It trains veterinary epidemiologists to work alongside public health officials to address the ever-increasing threats of zoonotic and epizootic diseases in order to improve public health. The program is growing and this year its volume has doubled. This is something to be proud of, and the challenge for us in Nigeria is to be able to support and appropriate funds beyond the CDC grant, in the hope that they become an integral part of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control.