United States Supports Launch of Zambia Field Epidemiology Training Program

Lusaka. September 5, 2014.

LUSAKA –Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Davy Chikamata, launched the U.S. government-supported Zambia Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), the first of its kind in Zambia, with a ceremony Friday, September 5 at Nomad’s Court, 34474 Off Alick Nkhata Road, Lusaka at 9:00AM. The Zambia FETP is a comprehensive, two-year, competency-based training and service program supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Zambia. Designed to build sustainable public health capacity, Dr. Chikamata said, “This program will help Zambia prepare and respond to disease threats like Ebola and HIV, as well as better manage other health challenges such as malaria and vaccine-preventable diseases.”

The Zambia FETP is a partnership between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, and University of Zambia School of Medicine. A 25-member Advisory Board—the Zambia FETP Steering Committee—comprises representatives from these institutions in addition to representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture and Labor, the University of Zambia School of Veterinary Medicine, and civil society organizations. There are 46 similar programs in other African countries and throughout the world designed to build local capacity to respond to public health challenges such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis.

After a competitive selection process, six Zambian health workers were selected to be “residents” of this first FETP training group. The six residents will undertake training to investigate disease outbreaks, improve disease surveillance, respond to public health emergencies, and use data to inform health policy decision-making. The first cohort will complete the program in 2016 and will have the knowledge and expertise to assume leadership positions in the field of public health, mentor and train other health workers, and enhance Zambia’s public health workforce. All six residents currently work for the Ministry of Health or Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health in five provinces. Four of the residents will be assigned to conduct field work at sites in Lusaka: the National Malaria Control Center; the Directorate of Disease Surveillance, Control and Research; the Child Health and Immunization Unit; and the Prevention of Mother to Child (HIV) Transmission Unit. One resident will be assigned to the Tropical Diseases Research Centre in Ndola and one to the Southern Province Health Office in Choma.

Dr. Lawrence Marum, outgoing Country Director for CDC in Zambia, exclaimed, “We have been planning this program in Zambia for more than five years. This is another example of Zambians and Americans partnering to improve the lives and health of the Zambian people.”