ESCAIDE Delivers Value for FETPs in Europe and Beyond

Header image: Dr. Mike Ryan of WHO speaks at ESCAIDE 2019. Photo credit: ESCAIDE

From November 27-29, 2019, the annual European Scientific Conference on Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology (ESCAIDE) took place in Stockholm, Sweden, home of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). ESCAIDE serves as a forum for the sharing of scientific knowledge and experiences in all areas applied to infectious disease epidemiology, public health microbiology, and related fields.

ESCAIDE 2019 convened more than 500 epidemiologists, veterinarians, microbiologists, clinicians, public health professionals, health communication experts, social scientists, and other professionals from 46 countries. More than 150 fellows and graduates of European field and applied epidemiology training programs attended, including the European Program for Intervention Epidemiology Training and the European Program for Public Health Microbiology Training (EPIET/EUPHEM), the United Kingdom Field Epidemiology Training Program (UK-FETP), and the Germany Postgraduate Training in Applied Epidemiology program (PAE).

The conference provides invaluable professional development opportunities for students, including fellows and graduates of EPIET/EUPHEM and other national and international field or applied epidemiology training programs. ESCAIDE serves as a venue for these fellows and graduates to present their work via oral and poster presentations and learn from the experiences of others working across different facets of infectious disease detection, prevention and control. As the conference also accepts abstracts from non-European countries, FETP fellows and graduates from Australia, Canada, Pakistan, and Senegal also attended to present their work.

“That to me is the real benefit of events such as ESCAIDE,” says Dr. Thomas Waite, co-director of UK-FETP, in a video interview conducted by TEPHINET during the event. “We meet each other, we develop a community of practice, we learn from each other, and in that way, we’re all more prepared for protecting public health.”

In total, ESCAIDE 2019 featured more than 220 oral and poster presentations across the categories of emerging and vector-borne diseases, vaccine-preventable diseases, healthcare-associated infections, food- and waterborne diseases and zoonosis outbreaks, influenza vaccination and intervention, antimicrobial resistance, hepatitis B and C surveillance and disease burden, HIV and STI prevalence and prevention, and tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases.

ESCAIDE also features plenary sessions on timely topics. On the first day of ESCAIDE 2019, Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Program, shared lessons learned about health security and preparedness from the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during his opening plenary address. Other plenary topics included:

  • climate change as a public health challenge in Europe (with Dr. Henriette De Valk of Public Health France and Dr. Ana Maria de Roda Husman of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment of the Netherlands),
  • vaccine confidence in a post-factual world (with Dr. Wolfgang Gaissmaier of the University of Konstanz and Dr. Robb Butler of the WHO European Regional Office), and
  • defining public health research priorities (with Dr. Ed Whiting of the Wellcome Trust, Dr. Lina Moses of Tulane University, and Dr. Jean-Claude Desenclos of Public Health France).

The event culminated in the graduation of the 2017 cohort of EPIET/EUPHEM.

“I hope to welcome many FETPs outside the EPIET and EUPHEM family to come and meet us at ESCAIDE next year in Warsaw, Poland,” says Dr. Amrish Baidjoe, president of the EPIET Alumni Network, in a video interview. Baidjoe is an alumnus of EPIET/EUPHEM and a member of the ESCAIDE 2019 scientific committee.

“There are several things that current FETP fellows and graduates can gain from ESCAIDE. The interaction with the network…the excellent scientific talks that are given, so you can learn a lot, especially about what’s happening in different European member states but also beyond the different European member states.”

Baidjoe also pointed out the array of social activities available at ESCAIDE to facilitate interactions among attendees.

“As the EPIET Alumni Network, we organize some of these activities, like CareerCompass that aims to expose junior professionals and mid-career professionals to a career panel in an informal setting where they can ask any type of question around future career opportunities.”

FETP fellows and graduates who are interested in learning more about ESCAIDE can visit the event’s website.