Summary of the 10th TEPHINET Regional Scientific Conference of the Americas


From May 15-18, 2018, TEPHINET co-hosted the 10th TEPHINET Regional Scientific Conference of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, in partnership with Instituto Nacional de Salud (INS) Colombia, the parent organization of the Colombia Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP). The conference took place at the Hilton Cartagena Hotel and drew approximately 300 participants from 18 countries across the Americas Region. Trainees and graduates of FETPs in the region gave a total of 106 oral and digital poster (iPoster) presentations. In addition, the recipients of TEPHINET’s Zika-focused mini-grants (small grants given to individual FETP trainees or graduates to support the completion of health surveillance projects) gave 19 presentations on projects related to strengthening Zika surveillance and response activities within their home countries.

Conference Results

In consideration for a combined total of 140 oral and iPoster presentation slots, TEPHINET received 342 scientific abstracts from FETP trainees and graduates. This was the highest number of abstracts ever submitted to TEPHINET for this conference, a fact that speaks not only to increased interest in TEPHINET conferences but also to the tremendous growth and development of FETPs in this region over the past several years. Nearly a third (110) of the abstracts were submitted by trainees and graduates of newly established FETP Frontline programs across the region. Therefore, for the first time, the conference scientific committee created a dedicated award category to recognize the best oral and poster presentations given by Frontline trainees or graduates (see ‘Award Winners’ section below). In total, out of the 140 accepted abstracts, 52 oral presentations and 54 iPoster presentations were ultimately given during the conference.

FETP-Frontline Development and Symposium

Prior to the start of the conference, on the evening of May 14, TEPHINET held a symposium for the leadership of FETPs from the region to share lessons learned during the implementation of Frontline-level training within these programs over the past two years. From 2016-2017, through funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), TEPHINET and the CDC collaborated with country ministries of health and other local health agencies to launch nine Frontline training programs in the Latin America and Caribbean region to increase local surveillance capacity to detect Zika and other diseases. (See Overview: TEPHINET and FETP-Frontline Implementation across Latin America and the Caribbean for more details [a Spanish version is available here].)

Pre-conference Workshops

On May 15, participants had the opportunity to attend one of seven pre-conference workshops held on the following topics:

  • Hypothetical Scenarios for Approaches to Arbovirus Outbreaks (facilitated by speakers from Secretaría Ejecutiva del Consejo de Ministros de Salud de Centroamérica y República Dominicana [SE-COMISCA])
  • TEPHINET Accreditation (for FETP leadership only) (facilitated by speakers from TEPHINET and TEPHINET’s Accreditation Working Group)
  • FETP Capacity-building for Cancer Prevention and Control (facilitated by speakers from the CDC)
  • Risk Communication (facilitated by speakers from the CDC)
  • International Health Regulations (IHR) (facilitated by speakers from the Pan-American Health Organization [PAHO-WHO] and the South American Institute of Government in Health)
  • Use of Innovative Tools for the Entomological Surveillance of Aedes aegypti (facilitated by speakers from INS Colombia and Grupo Pixeling Solutions)
  • Building Capacity for the Study of Associated Neurological Syndromes: The Experience of Zika (facilitated by speakers from INS Colombia)

Plenary Sessions

  • Under the theme of “Health Security in the Americas: The Challenges of an Interdisciplinary Approach,” the conference featured seven plenary sessions on the following topics:
  • Collaboration, health, and security (with keynote speaker Professor Jimmy Whitworth from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
  • The One Health approach as a focus for the treatment of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases (with speakers from the One Health Commission, SE-COMISCA, CDC Peru, CDC, and La Salle University in Bogota)
  • Innovative strategies for public health surveillance (with speakers from INS Colombia, the Ministry of Health of Brazil, and CDC)
  • Zika response activities across the region (with speakers from the FETPs of Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia and the Dominican Republic)
  • National security and health emergency response (with speakers from the U.S. Department of State, the Ministry of Public Health of the Dominican Republic, and George Mason University)
  • Risk management (with speakers from INS Colombia, Public Health Agency of Canada, the Ministry of Health of Mexico, the Caribbean Public Health Agency, and the Costa Rican Social Security Fund)
  • Sharing data and samples in accordance with the International Health Regulations (IHR) (with speakers from INS Colombia and the South American Institute of Government in Health)

Field Site Visits

Held on May 17, field site visits offered conference participants valuable opportunities to see part of a local health system up close and compare it with their own. For this conference, participants could select from one of the following site visit options:

  • Case Analysis
  • Emergency Operations Center
  • Field Epidemiology and Community Surveillance in Public Health
  • Public Health Surveillance in Colombia
  • Port Surveillance and Health

Evaluations and Awards

Each oral presentation, iPoster presentation, and photo contest entry was evaluated during the conference by three judges, who entered their scores (via tablet) into electronic evaluation forms built using Epi Info™ software. The forms and tablets were provided by ProEpi, an association of Brazilian field epidemiologists. As part of this real-time data collection method of evaluation, ProEpi built dashboards, using the data visualization software Tableau, in order to display the evaluation results to conference participants. As a result, evaluation results were obtained with a high level of efficiency and transparency.

Based on the evaluation results, the following award winners were announced during the Awards and Closing Ceremony held at the conclusion of the conference on May 18.

Photo Contest
Facebook Winner (the photo receiving the most ‘likes’ on the TEPHINET Facebook page): Mario Alberto Chaparro Rodriguez (Colombia)
3rd Place: Roshan Seeramsingh (Trinidad and Tobago)
2nd Place: Sandra Ocampos (Paraguay)
1st Place: Mario Alberto Chaparro Rodriguez (Colombia)

Poster Presentations
Best Poster Presentation by a Trainee or Graduate of a Frontline FETP:
Name: Jazmin Vera
    Country: Paraguay
    Title: Caracterización de los casos de tos ferina en el Departamento de Alto Paraná-Paraguay, 2014 al 2016

Best Poster Presentation by a Graduate of an Advanced/Intermediate FETP:
Name: Nathalia Munoz
    Country: Colombia
    Title: Variables climáticas y presentación de casos de Dengue–Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia, 2010–2015

3rd Place: Best Poster Presentation by a Trainee of an Advanced/Intermediate FETP:
Name: Bruna Dias Tourinho
    Country: Brazil
    Title: Investigation of 512 cases of adverse drug reactions (ADR) due to somatropin use, Paraná State, Brazil, 2017

2nd Place: Best Poster Presentation by a Trainee of an Advanced/Intermediate FETP:
Name: Gustavo Giménez
    Country: Paraguay
    Title: Evaluación del sistema de vigilancia epidemiológica universal de las meningoencefalitis en Paraguay, 2016

1st Place: Best Poster Presentation by a Trainee of an Advanced/Intermediate FETP:
Name: Yoshiyuki Hideki Acosta Ramos
    Country: Mexico
    Title: Seguimiento de un brote de conjuntivitis mediante infodemiología

Oral Presentations

Best Oral Presentation by a Trainee or Graduate of a Frontline FETP:
Name: Adriana Dias Lourenço Izuka
    Country: Brazil
    Title: Vigilância Entomológica: eixo estratégico sinalizador para identificação de áreas de risco e casos humanos de arboviroses, Foz do Iguaçu/Paraná, Brasil, 2017

Best Oral Presentation by a Graduate of an Advanced/Intermediate FETP:
Name: Sandy Cano
    Country: Guatemala
    Title: Análisis de la vigilancia de tuberculosis multidrogorresistente – Guatemala 2012-2016

3rd Place: Best Oral Presentation by a Trainee of an Advanced/Intermediate FETP:
Name: Nilza Rojas-Arroyo
    Country: Mexico
    Title: Estimation of Maternal Mortality due to Illegal Abortion in Mexico. 2002-2014

2nd Place: Best Oral Presentation by a Trainee of an Advanced/Intermediate FETP:
Name: Rita De Cássia Ferreira Lins
    Country: Brazil
    Title: Surto de doença diarreica aguda na principal competição estudantil esportiva do Brasil, Brasília/DF, 2017

1st Place: Best Oral Presentation by a Trainee of an Advanced/Intermediate FETP:
Name: Sandoval Ordinola
    Country: Peru
    Title: Brote de Ántrax en la localidad La Encantada–Piura, Perú, 2015

Best Applied Public Health Intervention
Name: Yosanly Cornelio
    Country: Dominican Republic
    Title: Desarrollo de herramientas gráficas tecno-didácticas para el apoyo a la detección de enfermedades febriles con potencial epidémico en la República Dominicana, 2017

Conference Materials
The following materials are available to view:
Abstract Book | See below to download
iPoster Gallery | Click to view
Oral Presentation Slides | Click to access
Plenary Session Slides | Click to access
Plenary Session Videos | Click to watch
Conference Photos | Click to view
Photo Contest Entries | Click to view

TEPHINET would like to thank Instituto Nacional de Salud Colombia for its invaluable partnership in conference planning and execution as well as all members of the Scientific and Logistics Committees, abstract reviewers, moderators, judges, and volunteers for their input and assistance.

In addition, TEPHINET would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of this conference:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Dirección General Marítima (DIMAR), Autoridad Marítima Colombiana, Ministerio de Defensa Nacional

TEPHINET also acknowledges all of the FETPs across the region for facilitating the participation of their staff, trainees, and graduates in this conference.
Finally, TEPHINET would like to recognize the city of Cartagena and the Ministry of Health of Colombia for their hospitality.

11th TEPHINET Regional Scientific Conference
TEPHINET will hold its next regional conference of the Americas in Brazil in 2020 in partnership with the Brazilian Ministry of Health and EpiSUS, the Brazil Field Epidemiology Training Program.