The Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap: Where We Are and Where We're Going

The Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap charts a path forward for building and sustaining applied epidemiology capacity to protect every country. Below, written by TEPHINET Director Dr. Carl Reddy, is an update on this initiative since its official launch at the 10th TEPHINET Global Scientific Conference in October 2019.


In June 2018, a group of key leaders and stakeholders in field epidemiology capacity development, led by the Task Force for Global Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), convened at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center and developed the Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap. At this meeting, the FETP enterprise was defined as the totality of the leaders, funders, implementing partners, government agencies, and other stakeholders engaged in the global Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) effort, along with associated workforce competency targets, standards, agreements, technologies, etc. that undergird this work. There was a second meeting at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in February 2019 to develop an implementation plan for the Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap. The Roadmap, as the name suggests, is the agreed-upon path to take the entire FETP enterprise forward in terms of relevant, responsive, sustainable and meaningful collaboration between its constituent members, stakeholders and partners.

TEPHINET officially launched the FETP enterprise at the 10th TEPHINET Global Scientific Conference in Atlanta in October 2019. Dr. Rebecca Martin (director of the Center for Global Health at the CDC) and Dr. Mike Ryan (executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program) announced their commitment to serve as co-chairs of a new Strategic Leadership Group (SLG) to drive forward the progress of the FETP enterprise against the recommendations made in the Global Field Epidemiology Roadmap. The SLG provides high-level commitment, a driving force for progress, and accountability for the Roadmap recommendations. 

Progress to Date and Steps for the Future

Now that the co-chairs have been selected, we need to select the other members of the Strategic Leadership Group (SLG) in order to move forward with the operationalization of the Roadmap recommendations. This will strengthen the global network to empower and mobilize a competent field epidemiology workforce to serve all people through standardized training, experiential learning, training program quality improvement, mentoring, and knowledge exchanges in order to connect epidemiologists better, faster and with quality across the globe.

The COVID-19 pandemic intervened at this critical juncture of the roadmap in March 2020 and our key partners, the CDC and the WHO, are directing full attention to their roles in responding to the pandemic. Whilst the process of establishing the SLG has been delayed, it has not been derailed. We have been working to nominate members to the SLG who would collectively provide a defined set of critically important competencies, professional experiences and organizational linkages. These potential SLG members have been vetted by the co-chairs and include representatives from the regional FETP networks and implementing partners, key partner and allied organizations, multinational/supranational organizations and current and former FETP and ministry of health leaders.

A draft Organizational Charter and Bylaws for the SLG has been drawn up and is currently under review. In addition, an invitation letter to potential SLG members has been drafted and approved, and the next step is to invite these persons to join the SLG and to conduct the first virtual meeting by September. Task-specific working groups will be formed to address specific recommendations (e.g., modernization of the FETP curriculum or development of a tool for setting country-specific workforce targets). These working groups will comprise SLG members and relevant members of the TEPHINET staff and may pull in outside expertise as well.

Meeting the Roadmap recommendations is critical for achieving the guiding vision of the FETP enterprise: 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. Through the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, this initiative remains a priority for TEPHINET, and we will continue to update you on its progress moving forward.