TEPHINET Helps Develop the Curriculum for a New, Advanced Caribbean Regional Field Epidemiology Training Program

From November 11 to 13, 2019, TEPHINET Director Dr. Carl Reddy contributed his expertise as a participant in a workshop organized by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to develop the curriculum for a new, two-year, advanced training track for the Caribbean Regional Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (CR-FELTP). The workshop took place in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, where CARPHA’s headquarters are located.

Participants included representatives from TEPHINET, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Public Health England, and the Ministry of Health of Belize, as well as Ministry of Health representatives from each of the countries that participate in CR-FELTP. (These include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.) 

The workshop agenda included the presentation of an evaluation of the two training tracks (Level I and Level II) currently offered by CR-FELTP as well as presentations on the existing FETP models in Belize, the European Union, and the United States. Workshop participants discussed these, and other, FETP models and came to an agreement on a structure for the new, two-year, advanced training track (Level III).

Level I, which CARPHA established following the 2016 Zika outbreak in the Americas with support from TEPHINET and the CDC, provides trainees with an introduction to the core competencies for integrated field and laboratory epidemiologic practice and includes 15-20 days of in-person training over a five-month period. After the completion of each training module, the trainees, who are health professionals working in the regional or national health organizations of the participating islands, return to their usual work locations. 

The core domains of Level I training include epidemiological methods, biostatistics, public health surveillance, laboratory and biosafety, computer technology, management and leadership, communication, emergency preparedness and response, and the epidemiology of priority diseases, threats, and injuries.

Level II is a 12-month intermediate training focused on building more in-depth epidemiology skills. This level includes the nine core domains mentioned above plus one additional domain (teaching and mentoring). Trainees spend roughly 25 days in face-to-face training and return to their usual work sites in between each module.

The upcoming Level III training will incorporate the aforementioned domains as well as additional training in project management. The second and third days of the workshop focused primarily on discussions of Level III curriculum content for each of these domains. 

“Topics of particular relevance to the Caribbean region include disease surveillance and outbreak response in the face of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, as well as chronic and non-communicable diseases,” says Reddy. “Already present in the Level I and Level II tracks, these topics also will feature prominently in Level III.”



Photos from the CARPHA curriculum development meeting for FELTP Level III (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, November 2019). Photos courtesy of CARPHA.