Pan African Medical Journal

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The West Africa Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program, a strategy to improve disease surveillance and epidemic control in West Africa

Evariste Mutabaruka, Mamadou Sawadogo, Zekiba Tarnagda, Lauren Ouédraogo, Lassana Sangare, Badolo Ousmane, Yassa Ndjakani, Olivia Namusisi, David Mukanga, Michele Evering-Watley, Sennen Hounton, Peter Nsubuga


The West Africa Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (WA-FELTP) which was established in September 2007, is an inter-country, competency-based, in-service and post -graduate training program in applied epidemiology and public health that builds the capacity to strengthen the surveillance and response system as well as epidemic control in the French-speaking countries where they are implemented. The overall purpose is to provide epidemiological and public health laboratory services to the public health systems at national, provincial, district and local levels. The program includes four countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Togo with an overarching goal to progressively cover all French speaking countries in West Africa through a phased-in approach. WA-FELTP’s 2- year Master’s program was launched in 2010 with 12 residents, three from each country, and consists of medical and veterinary doctors, pharmacists, and laboratory scientists. The training comprises 25% didactic sessions and 75% practical in-the-field mentored training. During the practical training, residents provide service to their respective ministries of health and ministries of animal resources by contributing to outbreak investigations and activities that help to improve national surveillance systems at national, regional, district and local levels. The pressing challenges that the program must address consist of the lack of funds to support the second cohort of trainees, though trainee selection was completed, inadequate funds to support staff compensation, and shortage of funds to support trainees’ participation in critical activities in field epidemiology practice, and a need to develop a 5-year plan for sustainability.

Pan African Medical Journal 2011;10(Supp1):10

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