The Caribbean Regional Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (CR-FELTP) launched its Level I (Basic) and Level II (Intermediate) programs in 2014, with the first cohorts graduating in 2015. This FELTP is modeled after many successful global programs and aims to respond to the capacity needs of the Caribbean Region. The vision is that the CR-FELTP will be a key component of the International Health Regulations (IHR) response, especially as it relates to human resource capacity to implement the IHR.
The overall goal of the CR-FELTP is to build epidemiology and laboratory capacity, through applied, real-world training activities that address current and future public health needs in the Caribbean region, in order to strengthen public health systems and infrastructure. As such, the program has a Caribbean context, is competency-based and needs-driven and addresses the human resource needs and aspirations of the Region. The program was designed to address priority public health issues in the Caribbean, including both communicable and non-communicable diseases and conditions, other public health threats and, laboratory surveillance. The CR-FELTP targets public health practitioners at different levels, with problem-based learning by doing, utilizing multiple learning modalities.
CARPHA, in partnership with the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET), rolled out Frontline FETP as a pilot training initiative in response to the regional Zika epidemic of 2016. In 2017, graduates from four (4) countries completed the program. The three-month, in-service Frontline FETP is considered the basic level of the CR-FELTP, the curriculum being developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and adapted for the Caribbean context. The program is focused on detecting and responding to diseases and events of public health importance or international concern. In 2019, Frontline FETP and Level I (Basic) programs were accredited for five (5) years by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Since its inception in 2014, the CR-FELTP has graduated 22 cohorts at the Frontline FETP (four cohorts), Level 1 (Basic - 17 cohorts) and Level 2 (Intermediate - one cohort). Since graduation, graduates have used their skills in investigating outbreaks of the vector-borne diseases dengue, Zika, and chikungunya; food-borne illness; as well as outbreaks of pertussis, norovirus, and chicken pox. Graduates have also been involved in responding to disaster/emergency response as in the case of Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria.
In 2018, three Frontline FETP abstracts were presented at the 10th TEPHINET Regional Scientific Conference of the Americas held in Colombia in May 2018. In August 2018, two Frontline FETP abstracts were accepted for presentation at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases (ICEID) held in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CR-FELTP has retrained graduates in outbreak investigation. Several graduates play a key role in their country’s COVID-19 task forces, being active in planning and coordinating case investigations, quarantine measures, and monitoring of cases. Additionally, the CR-FELTP assists in the coordination of the CARPHA COVID-19 Health Rounds which serve to provide CARPHA Member States with technical guidance to support public health policy and clinical decision-making affecting the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, clinical trials, medical product use and safety in response to COVID-19 pandemic.