Bangladesh Field Epidemiology Training Program
FETP Bangladesh (FETPB) is a two-year training program in field epidemiology and a collaborative initiative between the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) in Dhaka and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. The program began in 2013 and is supervised by a steering committee headed by the Secretary of Health of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bangladesh.
The FETPB trainees are selected objectively by their performance. Selection initially focused on government physicians and later included veterinarians and physicians of the Army Medical Corps, Bangladesh. The program provides both basic-level field epidemiology Frontline training and two-year Advanced training to chosen fellows with the goal of training and sustaining a highly skilled public health workforce in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is planning to start a one-year FETP intermediate program for health managers of sub-districts and districts in 2021.
FETPB trainees spend 20 percent of their time in a classroom and 80 percent in field placement. The FETPB program is affiliated with the University of Dhaka for physicians and with the Sher E Bangla Agricultura University (SAU) for veterinarians to confer a Master's (MSc.) of Applied Epidemiology degree upon completion of FETPB- Advanced training. Since 2013, seven cohorts were enrolled, and five completed their training.
During fellowship, services provided by the trainees include outbreak investigations, strengthening surveillance systems through evaluations and managing ongoing or new systems, providing evidence for data-driven public health decisions, consulting on epidemiologic methods, and training in surveillance and outbreak response for community health workers.
Over 90 percent (12 out of 13) of the graduates from cohorts one and two continue to work at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare following completion of FETPB training. The graduates are also becoming future FETPB mentors and program managers, as well as Ministry of Health and Family Welfare epidemiology experts.
As of 2020, 30 residents (24 doctors and six veterinarians) have graduated through the first five cohorts of FETPB’s advanced level training, and 169 doctors and veterinarians have completed its two-month FETP Frontline course in ten groups.
Fellows have conducted more than 100 outbreak investigations as lead investigators, which includes COVID-19, diarrhea, measles, Japanese encephalitis, swine flu, acute respiratory infection, anthrax, Nipah virus, influenza, chikungunya, and mass psychogenic illness. Fellows also conducted initial health assessments, vaccine coverage assessments, and diphtheria outbreak investigations among Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals (FDMN) in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
The graduates of the FETPB program are involved in strengthening the response to public health incidents in the country with enhanced scientific basis for program and policy decisions. They are helpful in strengthening the disease surveillance system with enhanced communication of epidemiologic information. The Bangladesh public health system is benefited by FETPB graduates with greater core capacity to meet surveillance and response requirements under the World Health Organization’s revised International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005). The fellows who graduated from the first three cohorts are also mentoring fellows from the fourth and fifth cohorts.
A total of 25 abstracts by FETPB trainees have been accepted to various international conferences, including at FETP International Night at the EIS Conference, as well as at TEPHINET global and regional conferences. From 2014 through 2016, four FETPB fellows were awarded TEPHINET non-communicable disease mini-grants.