One Health concept for strengthening public health surveillance and response through Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training in Ghana
AbstractThe lack of highly trained field epidemiologists in the public health system in Ghana has been known since the 1970s when the Planning Unit was established in the Ghana Ministry of Health. When the Public Health School was started in 1994, the decision was taken to develop a 1 academic-year general MPH course. The persisting need for well-trained epidemiologists to support the public health surveillance, outbreak investigation and response system made the development of the Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (FELTP) a national priority. The School of Public health and the Ministry of Health therefore requested the technical and financial assistance of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in organizing the Programme. The collaboration started by organizing short courses in disease outbreak investigations and response for serving Ghana Health Service staff. The success of the short courses led to development of the FELTP. By October 2007, the new FELTP curriculum for the award of a Masters of Philosophy in Applied Epidemiology and Disease Control was approved by the Academic Board of the University of Ghana and the programme started that academic year. Since then five cohorts of 37 residents have been enrolled in the two tracks of the programme. They consist of 12 physicians, 12 veterinarians and 13 laboratory scientists. The first two cohorts of 13 residents have graduated. The third cohort of seven has submitted dissertations and is awaiting the results. The fourth cohort has started the second year of field placement while the fifth cohort has just started the first semester. The field activities of the graduates have included disease outbreak investigations and response, evaluation of disease surveillance systems at the national level and analysis of datasets on diseases at the regional level. The residents have made a total of 25 oral presentations and 39 poster presentations at various regional and global scientific conferences. The Ghana FELTP (GFELTP) has promoted the introduction of the One Health concept into FELTP. It hosted the first USAID–supported workshop in West Africa to further integrate and strengthen collaboration of the animal and human health sectors in the FETP model. GFELTP has also taken the lead in hosting the first AFENET Center for Training in Public Health Leadership and Management, through which the short course on Management for Improving Public Health Interventions was developed for AFENET member countries. The GFELTP pre-tested the Integrated Avian Influenza Outbreak and Pandemic Influenza course in preparation for introducing the materials into the curriculum of other FELTP in the network. The leadership positions to which the graduates of the program have been appointed in the human and animal Public Health Services, improvement in disease surveillance, outbreak investigation and response along with the testimony of the health authorities about their appreciation of the outputs of the graduates at various fora, is a strong indication that the GFELTP is meeting its objectives.
Pan African Medical Journal 2011;10(Supp1):6