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11th TEPHINET Global Scientific Conference

Summary of the 11th TEPHINET Global Scientific Conference

Overview

After nearly three years without an in person conference, we were thrilled to be able to come together in a hybrid format for the 11th TEPHINET Global Scientific Conference from September 4-9, 2022 in Panama City, Panama. Co-hosted with the Executive Secretariat of the Council of Ministers of Health of Central America and the Dominican Republic (SE-COMISCA), the conference drew 378 in-person attendees and 222 virtual registrants from 65 countries. 

We Heard from Local and Global Public Health Leaders 

The conference featured four keynotes on topics ranging from SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance and sequencing, opportunities to "step up" field epidemiology, global elimination of hepatitis C, and regional perspectives on strengthening Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETPs). We heard from nearly 100 speakers representing organizations including, but not limited to, TEPHINET, SE-COMISCA, the Panamanian and Dominican Republic Ministries of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies, Costa Rican Institute for Research and Teaching in Nutrition and Health (INCIENSA), Central American Field Epidemiology Network (REDCEC), World Health Organization, Ending Pandemics, Resolve to Save Lives, and many more.

Monday, September 5 

The conference opened with remarks by TEPHINET Deputy Director Miriam Alderman, TEPHINET Advisory Board Chair, Professor Aamer Ikram, COMISCA Executive Secretary, Alejandra Acuña Navarro, Panamanian Minster of Health, Luis Francisco Sucre, General Director of Epidemiology for the Ministry of Health of the Dominican Republic, Ronald Skewes, and CDC Central America Regional Director, Emily Zielinski-Gutiérrez.

Plenary Session: "Origin of the Pyramid Model of FETP and Its Evolution: REDCEC Lessons Learned"

Speakers: Robert Fontaine (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention); Augusto Lopez (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention); Reina Turcios-Ruiz (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention); David Rodriguez (Central American Field Epidemiology Network-REDCEC); Emily Zielinski-Gutiérrez (CDC Central America Regional Office)

Description: The multi-tiered “pyramidal model” of FETP implementation began in Central America and evolved to be adopted around the world. In this session, we share an overview of that evolution, focusing on lessons learned. In this session, moderators and speakers will review the important lessons learned in the Central America FETP’s first 22 years and how this program contributed to what is now known globally as the pyramidal model of FETP. Speakers will discuss the challenges expected in program institutionalization in the future and the important role of COMISCA (the Council of Ministers of Health of Central America and the Dominican Republic) as the natural home of the Central America FETP.

Tuesday, September 6 

Keynote Speakers: Dr. Lissette Navas Alvarado, Director General of the Costa Rican Institute for Research and Teaching in Nutrition and Health (INCIENSA) joined Dr. Juan Pascale, Director of The Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies, for a keynote address focused on SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Surveillance and Sequencing. 

Concurrent Session I: "Becoming Better Ancestors: Applying the Lessons Learned from Smallpox Eradication"

Speakers: Cynthia Sema Baltazar (National Institute of Health of Mozambique), Lisa Hayes (Center for Global Health Innovation), Patrick O'Carroll (The Task Force for Global Health), Brian Tolleson (Lexicon Strategies)

Concurrent Session II: "A Future Free of Pandemics: Fireside Chat with Carl Reddy and Mark Smolinski"

Speakers: Carl Reddy (TEPHINET), Mark Smolinski (Ending Pandemics) 

Concurrent Session III: "Evidence from the Field: Advancing Non-communicable Disease Preparedness and Response"

Speakers: Elizabeth Krajan Pardo* (CDC Foundation), Tejpalsinh Anandrao Chavan (WHO India Country Office), Rupali Bharadwaj (WHO India Country Office), Chanatip Chailek (Mahidol University), Abiyie Demelash Gashe (Mekelle University), Mandefro Kebede (Addis Ababa University), Gopinath Sambandam (WHO India Country Office)

*Moderator

Wednesday, September 7 

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu (World Health Organization (WHO)), delivered a thought-provoking keynote that focused on the ways FETPs can “step up” and take new responsibilities for global health security. 

Special Workshop: "Yes, We Can! Epidemiologists Can Be Advocates Too!"
This year, World Field Epidemiology Day (September 7) fell during the conference, allowing attendees to come together to celebrate the work of field epidemiologists around the globe. In keeping with the 2022 campaign theme of “Empowering Field Epidemiologists for Stronger Health Systems,” conference attendees had the opportunity to attend a special session on self-advocacy, presented by Dr. Emmanuel Agogo, Nigeria Country Director at Resolve to Save Lives. Dr. Agogo led attendees on a journey to becoming better self-advocates through an interactive plenary session that shared stories of health care workers as policy advocates and provided attendees with resources and tools to be better advocates. 

Thursday, September 8

Keynote: "Open Forum with Regional Representatives"

Speakers: Aamer Ikram (National Institute of Health of Pakistan), Carl Reddy (TEPHINET), David Rodriguez (Central American Field Epidemiology Network (REDCEC)), Seymour Williams (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Fadzilah Kamaludin (South Asia Field Epidemiology and Technology Network (SAFEYNET)), Martyn Kirk (Australian National University), Patrick Nguku (Nigeria FELTP)

Concurrent Session I: "The Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap & Strategic Leadership Group"

Speakers: Chikwe Ihekweazu (WHO), Kevin Cain (CDC), Kip Baggett (CDC), Seymour Williams (CDC), Patrick O'Carroll (The Task Force for Global Health), Mohannad Al-Nsour (Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (EMPHNET) and Global Health Development (GHD)), Carmen Varela Santos (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC))

Concurrent Session II: "Learning in the FETP Community: Pivoting to a New Normal"

Speakers: Nissaf Bouafif ép Ben Alaya (Tunisia Field Epidemiology Training Program), Anaité Díaz Artiga (Universidad del Valle de Guatemala), Tambri Housen (University of Newcastle, Australia), Claire Jennings (TEPHINET), Honoré Kabwebwe Mitonga (University of Namibia), Lise Martel (CDC), Anne Perrocheau (WHO)

Concurrent Session III: "Improving Field Epidemiology Workforce Preparedness & Response to Address NCDs through FETPs"

Speakers: Qaiser Mukhtar* (CDC), Carl Reddy (TEPHINET), Zegeye Hailemariam Tessema (Ministry of Health, Ethiopia), Prabhdeep Kaur (ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai, India), Phanthanee Thitichai (Ministry of Health, Thailand), Lijie Zhang (Chinese Field Epidemiology Training Program)

*Moderator

Friday, September 9

Concurrent Session I: "The Future of FETP as Part of the Global Health Workforce"

Speakers: Haitham Bashir (Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (EMPHNET)), Ashley Greiner (CDC), Tambri Housen (University of Newcastle, Australia), Ditu Kazambu (African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET)), Lise Martel (CDC), Anne Perrocheau (WHO), Reina Turcios-Ruiz (CDC), Lisandro Torre (TEPHINET)

Concurrent Session II: "The APDC-TEPHINET Fellowship: Critical Synergies Between Field Epidemiology and Pathogen Discovery"

Speakers: Francisco Averhoff (Abbott Diagnostics), Susan Gawel (Abbott Diagnostics), Lara Pereira (TEPHINET)

Concurrent Session III: "Global Elimination of Hepatitis C"

Speakers: Philippa Easterbrook (WHO)

Venue

Sheraton Grand Panama and online

We Learned from the Boots on the Ground Field Epidemiologists around the Globe

TEPHINET received 379 abstract submissions from 72 countries and accepted 265 for oral and poster presentation. Of these, 101 oral and 103 poster presentations were given at the conference. During the conference, trainees and recent graduates of Frontline, Intermediate and Advanced FETPs, as well as alumni who graduated more than two years ago, presented on topics ranging from COVID-19 to food and waterborne disease outbreaks, HIV, antimicrobial resistance, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), malaria, and much more. 

The conference also featured special presentations from the first cohort of TEPHINET-Abbott Pandemic Defense Coalition (APDC) fellows.

Download the Book of Abstracts (below) to read these abstracts.

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Participants learned about the opportunities, processes, challenges and realities of deploying for public health emergencies and outbreak response during the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network's (GOARN) Interactive Learning Session. 

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We Exchanged Knowledge and Skills During Interactive Learning Sessions 

Participants had the option of attending pre-conference Interactive Learning Sessions (ILS) on September 3-4. These facilitated, workshop-style sessions have clear learning objectives and opportunities for learner engagement with the material being presented.

Interactive Learning Session Topics Included:

  • Introduction to R for Applied Epidemiology 
  • Developing an FETP Institutionalization and Sustainability Plan
  • Understanding and Analyzing Population Mobility & Connectivity to Inform Public Health Interventions
  • FETP Learning & the Pandemic: From Face-to-Face to Blended Modalities
  • FETP: NCD COVID-19 Toolkit, Advanced Case Study
  • Continuous Quality Improvement in an FETP Curriculum
  • Operationalizing FETP Impact Evaluation
  • Beyond Principles: How do we use learning theories to facilitate FETP learning experiences?
  • The Role You Play in Epidemic Intelligence: EpiCore, Crowdsourcing Epidemic Intelligence
  • Integrating Mortality Data Systems to Optimize Public Health Information
  • GOARN Tier 1.5 Training: Orientation to International Outbreak Response with GOARN
  • Improving Equity and Access through Online Scientific Writing and Communication Training and Tools
  • Innovative Models and Methods for Evaluating FETP
  • Centering Women in the Planning and Delivery of Field Epidemiology Training Programs
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TEPHINET Director Dr. Carl Reddy and Advisory Board Chair, Professor Aamer Ikram cut the first piece of TEPHINET's 25th anniversary cake on the last day of the global conference.

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We Celebrated 25 Years of Global Health Workforce Capacity Building

This year marks TEPHINET’s 25th anniversary, a milestone year to look back on our network’s accomplishments and our impact on public health over the years. During the conference, we hosted an official celebration of #TEPHINETat25, featuring presentations from the Belize, Pakistan, and Zambia FETPs, and reflections from previous TEPHINET leaders.

We Shared Laughs, Dances, and Culture during International Night 

No TEPHINET conference would be complete without our traditional International Night. On Thursday, September 8, we gathered for an evening of networking and cultural exchange, witnessing musical and dance performances by conference attendees from more than twenty countries. TEPHINET’s Emergency Response Team Lead Lisandro Torre emceed the evening, quizzing attendees with trivia from each of the represented countries and regions. 

Awards and Recognitions

TEPHINET presented the following awards during the Awards and Closing Ceremony on Friday, September 9, 2022. 

Presentation Awards

  • Best Poster Presentation by an FETP Intermediate or Advanced Fellow or Recent Graduate: Sumia Aturki, "Prevalence and Associated Factors of Diabetes Mellitus among Tuberculosis Patients, National Tuberculosis Center, Sana’a-Yemen, 2021"
  • Best Oral Presentation by an FETP Intermediate or Advanced Fellow or Recent Graduate: Munir Ahmed, "Differences in Survival Among White, Black, and Hispanic Infants with Central Nervous System Defects — Texas, 1999–2017"
  • Best Poster Presentation by an FETP Frontline Fellow or Recent Graduate: Deepa Meena, "Food borne outbreak of Staphylococcus aureus following a wedding ceremony in Sardarshahar, District Churu, Rajasthan, September 2021"
  • Best Oral Presentation by an FETP Frontline Fellow or Recent Graduate: Thendo Ndou, "Epidemiology of ESKAPE Pathogens at a Tertiary Care Hospital, South Africa, January 2019 to August 2021"
  • Dionisio Herrera Guibert Award for Best Applied Public Health Intervention: Mafoudia Soumare, "Factors associated with the COVID-19 outbreak in Conakry Central Prison, Guinea, April 2020: a cohort study"
  • TEPHINET Travel Grant for Environmental Epidemiology for Planetary Health (awarded in memory of James Mendlein): Monica Carreño, "Needs Assessment 16 Months After Hurricane Iota In Providencia And Santa Catalina Municipalities – Colombia"
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Dr. Robert Fontaine accepts the very first Award for Excellence in FETP Mentorship.

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Special Awardees

Recognizing the importance of good mentorship for the success of FETPs, TEPHINET and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have established the Robert Fontaine Award for Excellence in FETP Mentorship. The inaugural recipient is the award’s namesake, Dr. Robert (Bob) E. Fontaine, who has been mentoring FETP residents for over 25 years. Dr. Fontaine currently serves as a Senior Advisor in the CDC Division of Global Health Protection's Workforce and Institute Development Branch. Congratulations to Dr. Fontaine! 

Acknowledgements

TEPHINET would like to thank SE-COMISCA, The Task Force for Global Health, and Abbott for providing financial support for this conference. TEPHINET also thanks the following organizations for providing financial support for pre-conference Interactive Learning Sessions:  Applied Epi, Australian National University, Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (EMPHNET), Ending Pandemics, Field Epidemiology in Action, Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN), University of Newcastle, Australia, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thank you to our exhibitors: African Field Epidemiology Network, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network, Ending Pandemics, REDSUR, The Task Force for Global Heath.

Thank you also to the members of the conference planning committee, the TEPHINET Advisory Scientific Committee, the volunteer abstract reviewers, moderators, judges, onsite volunteers, and TEPHINET Secretariat staff for your assistance in making this event a success.