Programs Speak About the Value of Accreditation
TEPHINET accreditation is an opportunity for field epidemiology training programs (FETPs) to align with common international standards for quality training. Preparation for accreditation requires a concerted effort on the part of the program and may take a program several months or longer. The driving force behind accreditation is quality improvement.
Below, FETP staff speak about the value of TEPHINET accreditation for their programs.
Brazil Field Epidemiology Training Program
“As an important national strategy for strengthening health surveillance and emergency response actions in public health, TEPHINET's accreditation of EpiSUS (FETP Brazil) in 2017 was instrumental in bringing recognition to the quality and importance of the program.
The accreditation process, in all its stages, requires commitment and dedication on the part of all those involved, including managers, supervisors, trainees, partners, and, above all, flexibility and willingness to review and re-adjust the processes of conducting the program, according to the indicators established for Field Epidemiology Training Programs, recommended by TEPHINET.
It required months of preparation, from submission to the arrival of the review team, which culminated on September 3, 2017, with the certification that represented the highest award received by the program. Being an internationally accredited program has provided EpiSUS an opportunity for improvement in all directions, including strengthening its institutionalization and contributing to its sustainability.
EpiSUS was established in 2000 by the Brazilian Ministry of Health in collaboration with the U.S. CDC. The program has trained 140 health professionals, and eight are in training, totaling 15 cohorts. Since its inception, the program has prioritized the response to public health emergencies, having worked on pandemic influenza, Zika virus and its consequences, yellow fever, measles and mass gatherings, producing evidence for decision making.”
Colombia Field Epidemiology Training Program
“The accreditation process meant organizing information in a better way, improving the base documents of our program, internally verifying that we were complying with our processes, guaranteeing greater satisfaction for the current residents and fully supporting the [residents’] graduation…This also led us to reflect, to think about what we wanted and how we could improve. It led us to think about what we would be like in the next five years.”
-Dr. Maritza González, FETP Colombia Coordinator
“The key is to recognize that we make mistakes, that we are very good in the field, in pedagogy, and in what we produce, but that we must stop and review our standards, our procedures, our quality criteria. Programs must prepare themselves to be better, to accept the challenge; at last, the reward is great. Being an accredited program really puts you in the big leagues.”
-Dr. Franklyn Prieto, FETP Colombia Director
Epidemic Intelligence Service
Dr. Eric Pevzner, PhD, MPH (CAPT, USPHS), Chief of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) program at CDC, describes the value of TEPHINET accreditation for EIS. EIS was accredited by the TEPHINET Global Accrediting Body in 2016.
Kenya Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program
“Kenya FELTP was started in 2004 as one of the first FELTPs in Africa. It started as a regional program offering training to the neighboring countries but eventually concentrated on training for Kenya. The program is anchored in the Ministry of Health (MOH) and supported by U.S. CDC. The program initially started as a two-year training program and, in 2014, started basic and intermediate level epidemiology training to increase the number of frontline health workers with the capacity to detect and respond in time to public health emergencies, strengthen surveillance, and use data for decision-making.
In January 2017, in preparation to apply for the second cycle of TEPHINET accreditation, we undertook the readiness assessment and realized that our program actually met the eligibility criteria to apply for accreditation. The step of readiness assessment is, in itself, very important as it helps the program team reflect on all the important components of the program, identify the gaps, and institute corrective measures.
The process of applying for and preparing for the accreditation review team visit helped us to understand our strengths and gaps. For example, we realized that all our information was with different people in different personal computers and there was no central repository. With support from CDC, we are finalizing a system which will help us track our residents’ activities and also act as a repository for all their deliverables. The fact that accreditation is not one-off activity and will be reviewed every five years is helping us to make sure quality processes are maintained and that major indicators are monitored and still meet the thresholds as defined by the accreditation team.
Despite being anchored as a division within the Ministry of Health and having adequate oversight from MOH leadership, we have realized the importance of the advisory committee especially in light of the need for sustainability and full institutionalization. It’s only after the accreditation process that we fully embarked on discussions regarding program sustainability and have currently formed the program oversight committee that will mainly discuss ways of ensuring this.
The value of the accreditation process is that it helps the program to strengthen the existing or develop quality FETP processes and maintain that quality over time. With quality processes, we hope to have quality products and quality graduates.
Our advice to other programs striving for accreditation is to do the readiness assessment as early as possible and work on any corrective measures needed to meet the eligibility criteria. Work as a team to ensure all materials needed for application are gathered in time. Coordinated preparation is key for both this step and the accreditation review team visit. Prepare, prepare and prepare!
Kenya FELTP is one of the first two programs in Africa to be accredited; this, in addition to the fact that our graduates have successfully set up FETPs in other African countries, has reaffirmed our belief that we have built a quality program, and we will work hard to sustain that.”
-Dr. Zeinab Gura, Kenya FELTP Director
Philippines Field Epidemiology Training Program
Dr. Ma Nemia Sucaldito, program manager for the Philippines Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), describes the value of TEPHINET accreditation for the program. FETP Philippines was accredited by the TEPHINET Global Accrediting Body in 2017.
South Africa Field Epidemiology Training Program
Khuliso Ravhuhali of the South Africa Field Epidemiology Training Program (SAFETP) describes the value of TEPHINET accreditation for the program. SAFETP was accredited by the TEPHINET Global Accrediting Body in 2018.