Last April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with TEPHINET and other key partners, launched the Strategic Leadership Group (SLG) of the FETP Enterprise. The group aims to provide high-level leadership and accountability for the Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap, driving progress toward the Roadmap’s eight recommendations to achieve the vision that “every country in the world has the applied epidemiology capacities needed to protect and promote the health of its own population, and to collaborate with others to promote global health.”
In the year since its launch and inaugural meeting, the SLG has created eight working groups, one for each of the Roadmap’s recommendations. These working groups have conducted regular meetings to identify goals and objectives to guide implementation planning for their recommendation. During the most recent SLG meeting on April 6, 2022, working group leads shared updates on their goals and action items with the larger group, engaging in discussions around the best way forward. To date, seven of the eight working groups have made progress on at least half of their identified goals.
Professor Neil Squires, Director of Global Operations at the UK Health Security Agency, who serves on the working group for recommendation 8 (”The SLG should foster enhanced alignment and integration of the FETP Enterprise with key global health programs and priorities”), underscored the importance of having a skilled field epidemiology workforce that is prepared to respond to future health threats.
“Never has the need for a well trained public health workforce, with the skills and competencies to understand and respond to health threats, been more apparent,” says Squires.”Working group 8 seeks to align capacity development and expansion of FETP training with the pandemic response and health security initiatives needed to transform the global health architecture and ensure we are better prepared for future threats.”
The SLG has also seen a change in leadership in the last year, with both of the initial WHO and CDC co-chairs moving on from the group. Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Assistant Director General at the World Health Organization (WHO) leading the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, stepped in to replace Dr. Ibrahima Socé Fall in December 2021 , while Acting Director of the CDC’s Center for Global Health (CGH), Dr. Kevin Cain, has stepped in to serve as the interim CDC chair, replacing Dr. Rebecca Martin. When commenting on the appointment of the new co-chairs, TEPHINET Director Carl Reddy expressed his delight at being able to forge partnerships with two global health experts who have a wealth of FETP knowledge and experience.
The SLG plans to meet again in July 2022 to provide further updates on each of the Roadmap’s recommendations, and continue working together to build global field epidemiology capacity.