The Uganda Field Epidemiology Training Program (UFETP) was established in 1994 and is hosted by the Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH). Graduates receive a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) upon completion of the program. The MPH program is modeled around the Public Health Schools Without Walls (PHSWOW) concept, which places emphasis on a practical, field-oriented, competency-based training approach. The philosophy of the MPH program is to develop high quality and sustainable training strategies, which produce public health practitioners and leaders who are competent enough to address public health challenges at national, district, and community levels in Uganda and beyond.
Since its inception, the MPH program has graduated over 600 public health practitioners. The program has successfully equipped students with knowledge and practical skills, which are vital in the current efforts to build the capacity, strength and resilience of health systems. Our MPH alumni occupy leadership positions in health sub-districts, NGOs, government agencies, Ministries, and Universities within Uganda and internationally. The program also supports epidemic responses nationally and internationally. For instance, 15 MPH alumni participated in the Ebola outbreak response in West Africa in 2014.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program has made critical contributions in the country’s fight against the pandemic and its unintended consequences. The program Director, faculty and students have been involved in various preparedness and response activities at national, sub national and community levels. The program heads have participated in the provision of technical and scientific advice at the national level while faculty and some students have participated in the emergency operations; surveillance activities at points of entry and in communities; training health workers and risk assessments for COVID-19 at workplaces.
The program provides students and faculty with a challenging environment for academic growth and real-life field experiences to enable them handle the ever changing and complex health issues. The program conducts annual dissemination workshops for MPH students to present their field studies to the district health officials and public health institutions to which they were attached during their field work. MPH students also often present their work at national and international scientific conferences including the TEPHINET conference and the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) conference. In addition, MPH students and alumni publish their research in scientific journals. The MPH curriculum is regularly reviewed for quality assurance, and an MPH Alumni Association was formed as a platform to effectively engage in contributing to public health as a collective human resource.
During the program’s 27-year existence, there has been an increasing demand for public health specialists from both the public health system and management. As an academic institution, the program has expanded its capacity to manage the increasing number of graduates. There has been an increase in the number of faculty, more collaborations within the districts and public health institutions have been made, and an increase in programs’ partnerships with both government and non-government institutions.