Strategic Leadership Group (SLG) Launched to Drive Progress of Field Epidemiology Training Programs Worldwide

In collaboration with TEPHINET and other key partners involved in global field epidemiology capacity building efforts across the globe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) launched a Strategic Leadership Group (SLG) to provide high-level leadership and accountability for the Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap. The SLG will drive the progress of the FETP Enterprise—a vast, multi-partner undertaking that includes the development, implementation, and evaluation of FETPs around the globe.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other public health problems, including emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, noncommunicable diseases, natural disasters, and humanitarian crises make it clear that all countries must have the capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats. This is necessary not only to safeguard the health and livelihood of their populations but also to prevent outbreaks from spreading across borders.

Since 1980, more than 19,000 “disease detectives” across more than 80 countries have trained in a TEPHINET-member FETP. FETP is a vital program that strengthens public health systems by training the public health workforce with the necessary skills and experience to respond in times of crisis and stop diseases at their source.

The SLG is comprised of 14 global health leaders, in addition to the two co-chairs—Rebecca Martin, PhD, director of CDC’s Center for Global Health, and Dr. Ibrahima SocĂ© Fall, MD, PhD, MPH, assistant director-general for emergency response at the World Health Organization (WHO). As the global network of FETPs, TEPHINET will serve as Secretariat of the SLG.

SLG member organizations include CDC, WHO, and TEPHINET, and:

  • Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC)
  • African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET)
  • Australian National University
  • Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (EMPHNET)
  • European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
  • International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI)
  • Public Health England
  • The Gates Foundation
  • World Bank

The formation of the SLG is the first of eight recommendations set forth in the Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap—a plan created 2018–2019 by key partners and stakeholders working 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.”

“The high-level CDC and WHO commitment to the Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap is significant,” said TEPHINET Director Carl Reddy, MBBCH, FCPHM, MSc. “This reinforces that FETP is a crucial means of reaching International Health Regulation core capacities and global health security goals.”

The SLG will advance global disease surveillance, detection, and response by monitoring the need for change and enhancement of the FETP Enterprise; developing action-oriented guidance, recommendations, and standards; and commissioning specific work to develop tools, systems, and policies.

Since FETP’s founding, these programs have become increasingly valuable as many countries and regions with insufficient public health capacities continue to experience threats of increasing frequency, magnitude, and complexity. Through a mentored, learn-by-doing approach, FETPs give trainees the skills to track, contain, and eliminate outbreaks, providing a service to their country and enhancing evidence-based decision making.

The SLG held its first meeting on April 13, 2021 to approve the group’s charter and establish priorities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this inaugural meeting was virtual.