Tanzania Celebrates First World Field Epidemiology Day with Awareness-Raising Activities, Commitment to Continued Field Epidemiology Workforce Capacity Building
September 7, 2021 marked the first World Field Epidemiology Day. To commemorate the day, the Tanzania Field and Laboratory Epidemiologists’ Association (TANFLEA) and graduates of the Tanzania Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (TFELTP) held a variety of events both before and after the day, including community sensitization activities and media orientation workshops. These pre-event activities helped familiarize the public and local journalists with field epidemiology and the role that field epidemiologists and laboratory experts play in protecting communities and responding to public health threats. Through collaborative partnerships with the Ministry of Health, District Health Officers, and local radio and television networks, TANFLEA was able to share information about World Field Epidemiology Day widely, alerting the public to free health services such as blood donation, health checkups, and COVID-19 vaccination that would be offered on the day.
During the celebration on September 7, several high-profile speakers, as well as teams of field epidemiologists, spoke about their work and the importance of field epidemiology in the rapid detection and control of public health crises. The Guest of Honor, Tanzania’s Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr. Dorothy Gwajima, acknowledged the important contributions of field epidemiologists to public health, proposing that World Field Epidemiology Day be officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). She also stressed the need to continue strengthening public health workforce capacity in the country to address key public health issues, emphasizing the need for multi-sectoral collaboration around a One Health approach to public health threats, and calling upon epidemiologists and intermediate and frontline TFELTP trainees to address the underutilization of data for decision making at the subnational level. Director of Preventive Health Services Dr. Leonard Subi also provided remarks, praising the work done by graduates of the TFELTP.
To date, 555 experts in epidemiology and laboratory management have graduated from intermediate and frontline courses under TFELTP, steadily growing Tanzania’s workforce of disease detectives.