The Cameroon Field Epidemiology Training Program (CAFETP) currently operates the three-tier FETP design consisting of the Advanced, Intermediate and Frontline FETP training. CAFETP is implemented by the Department for the Control of Diseases, Epidemics and Pandemics (DLMEP) at the Ministry of Public Health of Cameroon, with technical support from the United States Government, through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). To ensure institutionalization and proper coordination and provision of technical oversight, CAFETP functions thanks to the presence of high-level institutions and functioning committees set aside, notably:
In general, CAFETP aims to strengthen human and animal health personnel in epidemiological surveillance. Specifically, this program capacitates personnel to:
The two-year program is a sub-regional program regrouping trainees (residents) since 2010 in both the animal and human health sectors from Cameroon, Central African Republic and Chad (Democratic Republic of Congo was once part of this program before becoming an autonomous program). From 2010 to 2015, the program was known as the Central African Field Epidemiology and Lab Management Training Program (CA-FELTP) and was part of the Strengthening Surveillance and Response in Central Africa (SURVAC) program, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and focused on strengthening surveillance in Central Africa. In 2015, CA-FELTP became the Cameroon Field Epidemiology Training Program (CAFETP). Note that the Advanced FETP aims to reach the goal of 1 field epidemiologist per 200,000 inhabitants in Cameroon, Republic of Chad, Central African Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo by 2030.
The Intermediate FETP officially launched in May 2021 aims to train central, regional and operational level participants in epidemiological surveillance in a nine- to 12-month training period. This training captures Ministry of Health personnel and connects sectors previously trained in Frontline Field Epidemiology. This program has 13 trainees currently undergoing a one-year training in field epidemiology.
The Frontline or ‘basic’ FETP was officially launched in Cameroon in March 2016 and aims to train surveillance staff from all three levels of the health system in all ten regions of Cameroon. Similary, to ensure visibility of surveillance activities at the district and operational levels, more than 900 surveillance staff from the peripheral level of the health system have been trained in Frontline field epidemiology in Cameroon. The program also envisages training newly posted surveillance staff not trained on a yearly basis.
CAFETP is a member of TEPHINET and was accredited by TEPHINET in 2017. This was the result of a rigorous and selective evaluation process covering infrastructure and management, integration of CAFETP in public health services, staffing and supervision, and selection and training of residents.
Workforce development in surveillance and response occupies an important place in the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). Through its Joint External Evaluation (JEE), an assessment process implemented by WHO to help countries identify the most critical gaps within their human and animal health systems, Cameroon got the highest score due to the presence of a Field Epidemiology Training Program. FETP advanced alumni are assigned to key positions in priority departments and programs of the Ministry of Health.
As of December 2021, FETP advanced residents have completed more than 100 surveillance system evaluations, 100 database analyses and 100 program evaluations on immunization, zoonosis, maternal and child health, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, sample safety and delivery, neglected tropical diseases, non-communicable chronic diseases, blood safety, and the Incident Command System. FETP residents from the Advanced and Frontline programs have conducted more than 100 investigations since its implementation in the sub-region. These outbreak investigations cover various domains like vaccine-preventable diseases, water-borne diseases, vector-borne diseases, zoonosis, and COVID-19. The Frontline trainees have completed more than 800 operational-level surveillance data analyses and problem analyses.
The outcomes of CAFETP has been met thanks to a team of dedicated and experienced technical, administrative, logistics and finance staff. CAFETP has a visionary leadership and committed staff as well as management and monitoring and evaluation/tracking tools (Standard Operation Procedures, checklists, implementation guide, student guide) that fosters efficacy for a quality training. To continuously gain experience in the domain of public health trainings, CAFETP has well-structured tools and logistic backings, this makes it practicable for the program to be a platform for the training of health personnel. This platform has trained health personnel in Quantum Geographic Information System (QGIS) software, Rapid Response Teams (RRT), scientific writing, DHIS 2, and more.
CAFETP has a pool of mentors consisting of CAFETP alumni and experts from the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries that provide technical support and guidance to residents and trainees. They also play a supervisory role in assisting during field placements and outbreak investigations.
The Frontline FETP has demonstrated its capacity for flexibility in adapting to malaria surveillance. Two cohorts have graduated in August 2020 and March 2021 in the Far North and North regions in basic field epidemiology adapted to malaria control. CAFETP participated in preparations for the implementation of Frontline FETP in Benin in 2016 and facilitated the implementation of Frontline FETP in Niger in 2021 through curriculum adaptation, development of training tools and training of trainers.
CAFETP trained or in-training personnel are always involved in activated Incident Management Systems since 2016 (during the African Cup of Nations in 2016, avian flu outbreak in 2016, unknown atypical eruptive fever outbreak in the Far North Region in 2017, meningitis in Yaoundé Central Prison in 2017; HIV in 2017; cholera from 2018 to 2019, monkey pox in 2018, secondary blindness in infants in 2019, COVID-19 in 2020, and more). Note that CAFETP is widely represented in the COVID-19 incident Management System organogram since 2020 through the assignment of alumni (Deputy Incident Manager, Deputy Chief of Operation Section, Chief of Rapid Response Team Unit, Chief of Contact Tracing Unit, Chief of Point of Entries team).
CAFETP takes part annually in FETP International Nights during the EIS Conference and other scientific conferences to share findings during residents' field investigations.