Why the World Needs Field Epidemiology
Globally, we are more connected than ever before, making a health threat anywhere a health threat everywhere. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the rising frequency and intensity of climate events, the significance of TEPHINET’s mission to build global field epidemiology capacity has never been greater as our planet faces public health challenges of increasing magnitude.
Field epidemiology, also known as applied, interventional, or “shoe leather” epidemiology, is conducted with the aim of taking action to address a public health problem—whether it’s linked to human, animal, or environmental health—to reduce illness, injury, or death. Every country must have effective field epidemiology capacity to safeguard and promote the health of its citizens. Achieving this means that we can detect, investigate and control emerging and re-emerging health threats effectively.
Increased field epidemiology capacity allows for quicker outbreak response, making it possible to break chains of transmission and decrease cases and deaths. Field epidemiology is key to strengthening epidemiologic and surveillance capacity at all levels of the health system, mitigating public health threats, and leading to reduced mortality and case numbers, epidemic duration, and potential for spread.
Investing in field epidemiology training is crucial to ensuring high-quality health data for strong decision-making and the development of evidence-informed public health policies and interventions.
As the global network of FETPs, TEPHINET provides global-level solutions for strengthening the field epidemiology workforce.
These solutions have included:
- Overseeing the global accreditation and re-accreditation processes for advanced and intermediate levels of FETPs which define common quality standards for programs worldwide
- Institutionalizing high-quality scientific exchange and shared learning among FETP trainees, alumni, mentors, faculty and other public health experts via annual global and regional conferences that foster scientific excellence
- Developing a learning strategy for FETPs as well as specific learning resources to build the knowledge and skills of the FETP community
- Establishing an electronic platform, TEPHIConnect, to facilitate networking of FETP alumni and training and mobilization of qualified professionals for rapid response to outbreaks and other emergencies
- Fostering enhanced alignment and integration of the FETP Enterprise with key global health programs and priorities, including global health security, One Health, and universal health coverage
- Helping countries across the Americas region build sustainable capacity for disease detection by supporting the establishment of FETP-Frontline programs after the 2016 Zika outbreak and FETP-Frontline and Intermediate programs during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Providing vitally-needed operational and logistical support to several FETPs and partners fighting disease threats in-country to support FETP training and disease-specific elimination initiatives (e.g., polio eradication in Pakistan via the National Stop Transmission of Polio [NSTOP] program and Pakistan Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program)
- Awarding and administering competitive small grants to FETP trainees and graduates to develop and execute projects to address their professional development and the health priorities of their countries
- Awarding and administering emergency capacity-building grants to FETPs to support their COVID-19 response efforts
- Supporting the development of in-service applied veterinary epidemiology training (ISAVET) programs
- Forming technical partnerships and collaborations to advance global health security