Sierra Leone Field Epidemiology Training Program

Program overview

 In the wake of the 2014-2015 Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in Sierra Leone, the President’s Recovery efforts supported the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to launch the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) in Sierra Leone starting in June 2016 with the first Frontline cohort. The Intermediate program was launched in September 2017. Sierra Leone FETP currently includes two tiers: Frontline level (a three-month basic course) and Intermediate level (a nine- to ten-month training course). 

The main goal of the program was to fulfill the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) for developing a well-trained public health workforce for effective disease detection, investigation, control, and prevention. Since its establishment, 224 public health staff have completed the FETP-Frontline, and 54 have completed a three-month, in-service training focused on helping national and district staff in building surveillance and outbreak response skills. Similarly, a total of 54 public health professional have graduated from the FETP intermediate level. 


The Sierra Leone FETP has improved the epidemiologic capacity of the public health system as demonstrated in improved quality of response to many outbreaks.

In 2019, FETP graduates led an outbreak response to a Lassa fever (LF) outbreak in Tonkolili District detected in a health facility. The graduates systematically identified and investigated five cases and traced more than 300 contacts who required daily monitoring. During the investigation, the graduates sensitized the community and local hospital staff on LF infection prevention measures. The infection was successfully contained within the hospital before it spread to the community. 

In 2020, FETP graduates detected the first ever case of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) in Sierra Leone with subsequent identification of additional 35 cases and responded to the outbreak.  

During the first wave of COVID-19 in Sierra Leone in 2020, FETP graduates identified and mapped 11 hotspots in the capital of Sierra Leone and identified the source of infection for more than 70 percent of the reported cases. The cases were isolated which significantly reduced virus transmission. Key pillars of the national COVID-19 response are led by FETP graduates, including surveillance, immunization, and social mobilization.  The FETP trainees and graduates have conducted to several operational researches such as: 

  • Factors contributing to delay in accessing health facility-based maternal delivery - 2018
  • KAP household survey on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) – 2019
  • KAP on AMR among healthcare workers in Sierra Leone – 2021
  • First few 100 COVID-19 cases-describe clinical and epidemiological X-cs
  • Preventive behavioral practices against COVID-19 among healthcare works – 2021
  • Vaccine hesitancy survey among general population in Sierra Leone, 2022– a cluster survey

The program has also presented abstracts in national, regional, and international scientific conferences. Some of them are highlighted below:

  • 14 abstracts presented at the Africa Field Epidemiology Network Scientific Conference, Mozambique
  • 2 Intermediate graduates presented their abstracts at the 4th African Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases & Biosecurity, Sierra Leone 
  • 3 abstracts presented at Lassa Fever International Conference, Nigeria
  • 3 abstracts presented to the 2019 TEPHINET Conference, Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 3 abstracts accepted to International Night at the 2020 EIS Conference, Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 2 abstracts accepted for presentation at the 2021 International Night- EIS Conference, Atlanta, USA
  • 2 abstracts accepted for presentation at the 2022 International Night- EIS Conference, Atlanta, USA
  • 1 manuscript published in peer reviewed journal and one manuscript submitted 
  • 10 manuscripts written, submitted for clearance and under review for publication

In 2022, the Intermediate level of the Sierra Leone FETP was accredited by TEPHINET in its first cycle of intermediate-level FETP accreditation.