Africa CDC Initiative Aims to Strengthen Epidemiology Training and Bolster Health Security Across Africa

In celebration of World Field Epidemiology Day, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has unveiled its prestigious African Epidemic Service – Epidemiology Track Fellowship Programme. Developed in collaboration with the African Union (AU), this transformative two-year training initiative, spearheaded by Africa CDC, is poised to elevate the crucial role of field epidemiologists in safeguarding public health and global health security.

Recent years have witnessed Africa CDC playing a pivotal role in supporting field epidemiology training programs across the African continent. This commitment has resulted in the graduation of 49 frontline and 63 advanced Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) residents hailing from over 13 AU Member States. The dire lessons learned during the devastating Ebola epidemic in West Africa from 2014 to 2015 underscored the urgent necessity to enhance public health prevention, detection, and response capabilities, prompting numerous member states to initiate their own field epidemiology training programs.

Dr Jean Kaseya, Director General of Africa CDC, underscored the significance of World Field Epidemiology Day, stating, "World Field Epidemiology Day is a global movement that acknowledges and promotes the vital role of field epidemiologists in protecting population health and advancing global health security."

In alignment with international health regulations and the global health security agenda, the program seeks to train one epidemiologist per 200,000 population and one veterinary epidemiologist per 400,000 animal population. As Africa's population is projected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050, expanding the cadre of trained epidemiologists becomes imperative to fortify the continent's health security.

The Africa Epidemic Services (AES) initiative, encompassing the Applied Epidemiology Track, Health Informatics, and Laboratory Leadership tracks, complements the efforts of AU Member States.

The AES Fellowship Program spans two comprehensive years, encompassing three months of didactic training and 21 months of intensive field training across the African continent. Dr. Tajudeen Raji, Head of the Public Health Institutes and Research Division, emphasized the program's significance in fostering south-to-south collaboration.

Applications for the fellowship program are now open and will be accepted from September 7, 2023, to October 26, 2023. Africa CDC extends a warm welcome to qualified candidates from African Union Member States, emphasizing diversity and inclusion while encouraging applications from women, youth, and underrepresented regions.

This announcement aligns perfectly with the global recognition of the pivotal role field epidemiologists play in safeguarding population health and advancing global health security.

Article by Jed Mwangi