With assistance from the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand, and other pioneers, the Thailand Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) was established in 1980. The program emphasizes learning by doing; following this philosophy, trainees work on real cases to better understand and apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom. Since 1998, this FETP has admitted trainees from neighboring countries as well. In 2001, the Bureau of Epidemiology was accorded status as a WHO Collaborating Center for Field Epidemiology. As of now, the program has trained over 200 Thai and 70 international officers.
The graduates from this FETP have essentially become disease detectives at the national level. In 2004, the Surveillance and Rapid Response Team (SRRT) was formalized, and since then, the trained epidemiologists and other public health officers have addressed numerous infectious disease outbreaks and natural disasters, such as SARS, pandemic flu, cholera, tsunamis, and avian influenza. Nowadays, SRRT serves as a major frontline force for health emergency response in Thailand.