Perspective of a Resident Advisor: Erika Rossetto, Mozambique Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP)

I graduated from the fifth cohort of the Brazilian Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) in 2008. In 2010, I decided that I was tired of this crazy life of fieldwork and decided to change my career to have a more "normal," routine life. I soon realized, however, that I was kidding myself to think this was possible. In 2015, the virus of field epidemiology was reactivated in me. I rebuilt my career, focusing on global health emergency preparedness and response. In 2018, I had the opportunity to move to Mozambique and work with this amazing FELTP family. You probably already know about the important role of the FELTP residents and graduates who were first responders in the emergency that resulted from the two cyclones that hit Mozambique in 2019 and who strengthened the surveillance system in the affected area and controlled a cholera outbreak.

Since COVID-19 was detected, "my guys" started following the global situation, and we conducted Journal Club and discussion sessions about the epidemiological situation and the risk assessment for Africa. In early February, the residents adapted standardized WHO and CDC forms to the national reality to investigate positive cases and conduct contact tracing and 14-day follow-up. In early March, a team of graduates traveled to provinces to conduct a risk assessment. The first case in the country was confirmed on March 22. It was a Sunday evening, and two graduates were the first investigators and traced the contacts.

The residents investigated and traced contacts of the first eight cases in Mozambique. FELTP residents made up the first team deployed to the northernmost province to conduct case investigations and contact tracing related to the main chain of transmission in the country. This chain contained more than 32 positive cases, which they investigated, and 335 contacts that they traced. They supported the implementation of an active surveillance system and continue to be integrally involved in the work of the active surveillance team, investigations, and contact tracing. They also continue being deployed to the provinces to provide technical support. The FELTP is also supporting specific studies conducted in the country, including analysis of patterns of acute respiratory infection, and compliance with quarantine and isolation measures.

I am very proud of "my guys" and their engagement in responding to COVID-19 in Mozambique. With this pandemic, they have realized more than ever the importance of being in the FELTP, the need for readiness, being available 24/7, and working as a team. In the first days, I saw they had some uncertainties, but after two months, I see eyes shining and I would even say a proud smile under the seriousness and professionalism they display. They deserve it! FELTP Mozambique is the best response team I've worked with and I am also proud to see the great progress they have made in strengthening their own and Mozambique’s ability to respond to major public health threats.