U.S. and Ministry of Health Launch Epidemiologic Capacity Enhancement Program

Lilongwe, April 18 – Today Malawian Minister of Health Dr. Peter Kumpalume and the Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy Michael Gonzales launched a new Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) program to strengthen Malawi’s disease surveillance and response capacity.  The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is providing approximately $400,000 this year as well as technical support for the program, which will initially train ten Malawian public health professionals on disease identification, tracking, and monitoring best practices to serve as frontline surveillance officers across Malawi.  Once trained in the FETP, surveillance officers will be able to be deployed to the site of potential outbreak of illnesses such as cholera, and will be better able to assist in designing evidence-based health sector response strategies to keep people safe.  This new program is part of the broader U.S. Government support to the Ministry of Health (MOH) to build a qualified public health workforce in Malawi.

Speaking at today’s launch, Gonzales said, “Malawi has made impressive progress in combating HIV, child mortality, and other conditions.  If we continue to work closely together as partners and make careful and deliberate decisions as the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) progresses, I am confident it can be, like many other initiatives in Malawi’s health sector, a model program for the region and an enormous gift to the health of Malawians.”

FETP is a field-based, in-service training program for public health professionals who conduct disease surveillance and monitoring.  The program is designed to enhance the participants’ competency in data collection, management, and analysis.  The U.S. CDC has extensive experience implementing this type of program in a wide array of contexts across the world.  FETP in Malawi is implemented through the Public Health Institute of Malawi (PHIM), with technical assistance from International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH) at the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Malawi now joins a long list of countries with Field Epidemiology Training Programs and the long term goal of having at least one qualified field epidemiologist for every 200,000 citizens.  After this initial course in Lilongwe, additional courses will be held in other regions of Malawi with multiple courses offered each year; the medium term vision is to establish intermediate and then two year advanced courses for full applied epidemiology training.

To learn more about the U.S. CDC’s work in Malawi, please visit:  http://www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/countries/malawi/

Contacts: Edward J. Monster – Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy

Marcus Muhariwa – Information Specialist, U.S. Embassy

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