Tuesday, March 28

MoH graduates FETP-Intermediate Cohort 1

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By Yunus S Saliu

The Ministry of Health (MoH), Friday, 19th August 2022 held a graduation ceremony for its Field Epidemiology Training Program-Intermediate (FETP-1) in The Gambia. The graduation ceremony was held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Centre, Bijilo.

The graduation ceremony is the first in the history of the Field Epidemiology Training Program-Intermediate (FETP-1) in The Gambia.

The Field Epidemiology Training Program-Intermediate (FETP-1) project was sponsored by the US CDC and implemented by Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) and been extended to the health system in all spheres of the government of The Gambia.

Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Health was Dr Jainaba Kah, Permanent Secretary II at the Ministry of Health said the graduation ceremony marked another great achievement by the Ministry of Health in the development of and capacity building of her public health workforce and surveillance officers.

“Today, some of our surveillance officers in the Security Service, Department of Livestock Services, and MoH have graduated in another level of the intermediate. They have gone through the FETP training which has been patterned after the Epidemic Intelligent Service (EIS) training program in the US,” she disclosed.

She said the EIS has produced what they called Disease Detectives and “I am glad to see these committed officers graduate in similar step-down training for future epidemiologists,” she expressed with satisfaction.

This training model called the FETP, she said, has shown not only to be relevant in disease spread intervention but also in keeping the populace safe as it was experienced during the Ebola outbreak, the current Covid-19 pandemic, recent measles outbreak, and current unexplained events.

According to her, FETP-Intermediate is a 9-month in-service training that aims to strengthen the detection of and response to diseases and events of public health importance or international concern. And “participants are public health professionals who work on the middle-level surveillance data collection, monitoring, analysis, decision making, and response at all levels of their surveillance system,” she explained.

Adding that, these graduands have learned and practiced the fundamental skills used in advanced disease surveillance including public health research, case investigation, outbreak investigation and response, surveillance monitoring and evaluation, and data analysis and interpretation for decision-making.

As it is not just to celebrate their hard work and successful completion of the training, she, therefore, advised and encouraged them to continue to practice what they have learned and congratulated them by wishing them success in their career.

In his words of appreciation, Lieutenant General Yankuba Drammeh, Chief of Defense Staff thanked the Gambia Field Epidemiology Training Programs in collaboration with the Epidemiology and Disease Control Unit of the Ministry of Health for such a giant stride and as well acknowledged and profoundly thanked the United States Centre for Disease Control for providing the necessary funding for the project.

He said the high mortality and morbidity crises of a pandemic such as AIDS, Ebola, and the concomitant spread of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and the resurgent of malaria make it significantly important to study infectious disease processes and evolutions in Africa and The Gambia in particular.

He asserted that at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, one sector that faced and continues to face unprecedented challenges and risks is the health systems of every nation.

Cognizant of the challenges associated with disease and pandemics, he said, building the capacity and capability of public health officers to be able to accurately detect and respond to timely acute public health threats, including outbreaks, natural disasters, and humanitarian crises is indeed imperative.

CDS Drammeh, therefore, congratulated the graduands on the successful completion of this worthwhile program, while he extended sincere appreciation and gratitude to the entire membership of the Gambia Armed Forces for the singular honour accorded to him in addressing the graduands.

Dr Desta Tiruneh – WR, WHO encouraged the graduands not to relent in their efforts saying “this is not the end of it. You have just started you can continue to improve and increase your knowledge as you start practicing, no knowledge is lost.”

He continued that “tomorrow you might be one of the trainers, so aspire to reach the greater height on this, so congratulation to you all and good luck.”

Other speakers at the Field Epidemiology Training Program-Intermediate (FETP-1) graduation ceremony include Modou Njai, Director of Health Promotion and Education of MoH; Amadou Jallow FETP program coordinator; Director of Programs, AFENET Kampala; officials of US CDC, Atlanta.