Established in 2004, the Kenya Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (K-FELTP) is a division within the Department of Preventive and Promotive Health (DPPH) within the Ministry of Health (MoH). Its mandate is to increase epidemiological capacity within Kenya. The program started as a collaboration between the MoH and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recognition of the need to have a skilled public health workforce that supports disease surveillance systems, timely response to public health emergencies, and data analysis for decision making.
The key functions of the program include:
Upon its inception in 2004, the program started offering a competency-based master’s level training in applied epidemiology. Due to the need to have more health workers trained in epidemiological skills, in 2014, the program fully operationalized the tiered approach of training which includes a 3-month basic level epidemiology training, a 6-month intermediate level epidemiology training, and the two-year advanced level epidemiology training. Having three tiers of training that are operational and contributing to workforce development in International Health Relations (IHR) capacities is one of the indicators of IHR for both internal and joint external evaluations. Kenya scored highly in this regard during the 2017 joint external evaluation (JEE) by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Kenya FELTP has been accredited by the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET) in 2017. In fact, Kenya’s program is one of the first two programs accredited in Africa.
For the last 13 years, K-FELTP has continued to contribute to the strengthening of health systems in the country in many ways, which include:
The program has trained more than 500 health workers through the basic epidemiology frontline course and 83 through the intermediate level training from over 47 counties.
Residents and staff support various units and programs in epidemiological skills as needed. The residents are trained through service provision, and they spend 70 percent of their training time in the field. The following are some of the ways the program staff and residents provide service:
The program staff also participate in various activities within the ministry.
The program also houses and supports coordination of Improving Public Health Management for Action (IMPACT) program, an experiential training modeled on the Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP). IMPACT is comprised of two components which are the 2 years’ master’s program and the 6 month short course. It was designed in response to the need to strengthen the management skills of Kenyan public health professionals and to meet the challenges of the public health issues in Kenya. The IMPACT Program training places emphasis on service, providing real results to the health sector as the Fellows complete their field competencies. The IMPACT two-year training leads to an MSc in Public Health Systems Management and Application from Kenyatta University and is offered by the Kenya Ministry of Health in collaboration with Kenyatta University School of Public Health, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The IMPACT short course, referred to as the Distinguished Fellows Program (DFP) is a six month’s program is designed to provide intensive, advanced training to senior managers from across the Kenya Ministry of Health. Through a combination of classroom, field, and project work, IMPACT ‘Distinguished Fellows’ enhance skills and applied knowledge in key public health management competency areas.
IMPACT DFP: We have successfully graduated 3 cohorts of the DFP course. The participants have been MoH senior level managers from both the national and county levels. The first cohort started class in June 2016 immediately after the program launch which was held at the Kenya School of Government. The class comprised fifteen (15) participants representing 6 counties and 9 participants from the national level. The second cohort started class in November 2017 with fifteen (15) participants representing 12 counties. This class graduated in April 2018. The third cohort also had 15 participants representing 11 counties and 1 participant was from the national level. This class graduated in January 2019 after being in class from August 2018.
IMPACT Master’s course:
The master’s course has also had three cohorts so far with one cohort having successfully graduated from IMPACT in January 2019. The course was launched in February 2017. The training is designed in a way that learning takes place through classroom-based lectures and case studies, as well as service-based training that occurs during periods of field placement. The students are placed at field sites that are different from their previous work sites. This is so as to enable them get new field experience as well as to ensure that they are able to complete the for IMPACT core activities for learning (CALs). At their field site, they each have a mentor and a supervisor who guides them to ensure that they complete all the expected assignments. All the mentors and supervisors are graduates from the IMPACT DFP and/or FELTP. Cohort 1 had eight (8) fellows who were previously stationed at the national and county level. The class had a mix of medical officers, clinical officers, and lab technicians. This cohort graduated from IMPACT in January 2019 and will graduate from Kenyatta University in July 2019. Cohort 2 fellows joined the program in February 2018. Cohort 3 fellows joined in November 2018. These eight fellows were also previously stationed at national and county levels. They also represent various professions from medical officers, pharmacists, nurses, clinical officers, public health officers, and nurses. They are expected to graduate from Kenyatta University in December 2020.