Belize Field Epidemiology Training Program

Program overview

A regional field epidemiology training program was initiated in Central America in 2000 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to strengthen surveillance and outbreak investigation in countries affected by Hurricanes Mitch and George in 1998. Discussion between the Ministry of Health of Belize and the regional office of the CDC in Guatemala (CDC-CAP) in 2009 resulted in a proposal to pilot the FETP in Belize. The organizations agreed that basic training would be supported in-country, and additional training (intermediate and potentially advanced) would be provided by Universidad del Valle in Guatemala. The Center for Public Health Preparedness of the University of North Carolina (UNC) participated in the pilot to provide oversight of the training and help develop curriculum and teaching materials. The 2010 pilot FETP in Belize was considered successful, which prompted the Ministry of Health to endorse the continuation of the program.

Achievements

Since its inception in 2010, there have been a total of 53 graduates of the basic level, 11 of the intermediate level, and one from the advanced (MSc) level. Students from all three levels have been selected to participate in national, regional, and international conferences to present their investigations conducted as either students or while in the workforce. They have led outbreak investigations and conducted surveillance for various diseases. They have also been promoted or assigned to hold major surveillance posts, thus meeting the needs of the Ministry of Health.