India Field Epidemiology Training Program - Chennai

Program overview

In 2001, the ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology (ICMR-NIE), a permanent institute of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Department of Health Research,  India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, started a field epidemiology training program (FETP) leading to Master of Applied Epidemiology (MAE) degree awarded by the SreeChitraTirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), India.

Several institutions, organizations and individuals helped NIE in putting this course in place. Notable among them were researchers and academicians from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, USA; World Health Organization South-East Asia Regional Office (WHO-SEARO); Australian National University (ANU); and the global network of field-based epidemiology training programs (called the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network, or TEPHINET).

This initiative of ICMR-NIE received top priority from ICMR leadership and the required support from the ICMR and India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

MAE-FETP was aimed at strengthening health services through training of "in-service" middle-level health managers with a "learning-by-doing" approach. As part of ICMR's commitment to strengthen the Indian public health system, this program was offered free of cost to the government-sponsored officers from the State/Union health services. Trainees spent 75% of the time in their respective States for FETP's field projects under the supervision of district level line-managers and institutional mentors. These field projects include analyzing the surveillance data, investigating outbreaks, evaluating surveillance system, evaluating health program and conducting epidemiological investigation.

Information-generated from MAE-FETP investigations were used to initiate appropriate action at the State/District level public health system/services since MAE-FETP investigations are debriefed at these levels. The graduates of MAE are performing key public health functions such as managing India's Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, investigating outbreaks, implementing health programs/disease control operations at District/State levels. With MAE, ICMR-NIE has established credentials of fulfilling the needs of public health training in the country.

The ICMR School of Public Health (ICMR-SPH) at ICMR-NIE in 2008 started a two-year Master of Public Health (MPH) [Health Services Development and Research] program in addition to the MAE-FETP. In view of the developments in India's public health systems and increasing popularity of public training programs, ICMR-NIE integrated the MAE and MPH (Health Services Development and Research) programs into a new MPH program with a focus on field epidemiology and health system retaining the FETP core principle of "learning by doing."


  • Commitment and support (financial/administrative/technical) of the Ministry of Health, Government of India
  • Strong partnership with State health services for deputation of trainees, investigation of outbreaks and provision of learning-by-doing environment
  • Skilled public health workforce of 231 graduates in 27 of 36 Indian States & Union Territories
  • All case studies used for training purpose are based on Indian investigations
  • Majority of graduates working as health program managers at State/District/Sub-district levels
  • Several key scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals/awards from presentations in international conferences
  • Data for decision making generated from field projects influencing health programs/surveillance systems/clinical management
  • Outbreak detection and response through establishment of emergency surveillance systems and rapid surveys during natural disasters