First Fellows Complete U.S.-supported Field Epidemiology Training Program
HANOI, August 26, 2011 -- The first five fellows graduated today from Vietnam's Field Epidemiology Training Program, a U.S.-supported initiative that provides public health workers with skills to rapidly identify, investigate, and respond to disease outbreaks.
The Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) was established by Vietnam's Ministry of Health in 2008 with funding and technical support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Joint U.N. Program, and the World Health Organization.
"Your ability to apply critical epidemiologic methods to a wide range of public health problems will foster greater understanding of the source and transmission of diseases and prompt even better planning, mitigation and response in Vietnam," U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Claire Pierangelo told the graduates at a ceremony in Hanoi.
FETP is a two-year, on-the-job fellowship program that recruits epidemiological staff members across Vietnam. Fellows enrolled in the first class received 12 weeks of classroom-based teaching and 15 months of rigorous, hands-on practice in field investigations.
FETP fellows investigate outbreaks such as cholera, pandemic influenza, avian influenza, rabies, hantavirus, dengue and human plague in provinces across Vietnam. In addition to providing rapid disease surveillance and response, the fellows have published their work in international scientific conferences and medical journals.
"The FETP program gave me the practical skills needed to work in a team to identify and investigate unusual disease activity, make a rapid risk assessment and, most importantly, provide solid recommendations to the Ministry of Health on how to stop its spread," said Dr. Nguyen Cong Khanh, a medical doctor and graduating FETP fellow who investigated cholera and avian influenza outbreaks in northern Vietnam.
In Vietnam, 3.5 million people each year are infected with communicable diseases such as influenza, cholera, typhoid, dengue and meningitis. A lack of trained epidemiologists can put strain on the national health system and seriously hamper socioeconomic development. In recent years, Vietnam has been affected by the appearance of newly emerging infectious diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), avian influenza, pandemic influenza and hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Since the U.S. and Vietnam established relations in 1995, roughly 75% of all United States government financial support to Vietnam has been in the health sector.
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