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Somalia deploys FETP-Frontline training program to train disease detectives and prevent the spread of disease

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Somalia deploys FETP-Frontline training program to train disease detectives and prevent the spread of disease

It aims to improve trainees’ knowledge, skills and competencies in field epidemiology, and combines mentoring with classroom training and hands-on experiences.

CAIRO, Egypt, October 25, 2021 / APO Group / –

Having a public health workforce capable of quickly detecting and responding to epidemics is essential for any health system, as the current COVID-19 pandemic recently demonstrated globally. The importance of this empowered and well-equipped resource is further underscored by the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), a legal instrument that encourages countries to prevent, detect and respond appropriately to epidemics.

Take action to empower health workers

To address Somalia‘s limited disease surveillance and response capacity, largely due to decades of political instability, civil unrest, climatic shocks, and man-made and health emergencies, the Somali National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Federal Ministry of Health and Human Services organized the Frontline Epidemiology Training Program (FETP-Frontline), with the support of the Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET ), the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Swedish Health Agency.

The FETP-Frontline is a 3-month on-the-job training that addresses the essential skills needed to conduct surveillance and response activities effectively at the local level, with a focus on improving detection, reporting and of disease response. It is based on the premise that improving the epidemiological skills of ministry of health staff improves their ability to prevent, detect and respond to priority public health problems, which in turn would improve public health security in a country. It aims to improve trainees’ knowledge, skills and competencies in field epidemiology, and combines mentoring with classroom training and hands-on experiences to develop a country’s public health workforce. Trainees spend up to 12 days in 3 workshops and the remaining 8-10 weeks at their job, where they lead projects in the field to practice, implement and reinforce what they have learned.

The FETP-Frontline is part of a 3-level training model that is being implemented in many countries based on the recognition that building the capacity of public health personnel, especially in fragile countries, vulnerable and affected by conflict, is essential. levels of the health system, from local to regional level to national level. All 3 levels use the same condensed classroom teaching approach (< 25 %, suivi de stages sur le terrain > 75%) to acquire experience and skills in field epidemiology. The other 2 levels of this training model are called FETP-Intermediate (9 month program for staff based at regional or national level) and FETP-Advanced (2 year full time program for staff at national level).

Deployment of the first phase of FETP training

The NIH launched the 12-week FETP-Frontline training program with a first workshop, held August 29 to September 2, 2021 for 26 participants, followed by hands-on field experience, and a second training workshop that took place takes place from October 6 to 12, 2021.

Among the dignitaries who attended the launch of the FETP training on August 29 were Dr Abdinasir Mukhtar Ibrahim, Director General of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Services; Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative in Somalia; representatives of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Mission; and Dr Abdifatah Diriye Ahmed, NIH Director for Somalia. Other participants included the AFENET technical team.

First of the 3 levels of training, the initial phase focused on the training of health workers on the front line of public health surveillance.

Streamline reporting thanks to field experiences

Adan Mohamed Ali, who serves the National Malaria Control Program run by the Federal Ministry of Health of Somalia, was one of the first 26 participants to attend this pre-FETP training.

He explains that during the first phase of the 5-day classroom learning, he learned a lot about disease surveillance, monitoring and evaluation, descriptive epidemiology, and case investigation. As part of the on-the-job training, which includes 75% of each training, Adan visited health facilities in Kahda district, Banadir region. The second round of training focused on presentation of results, outbreak investigation and response, collection and transport to the laboratory, problem analysis and communication.

“During the audit, I had to visit 6 health establishments. However, only 2 were still functioning and one was under the Early Warning and Response Network (EWARN). I tried to convince the establishments that were not reporting to do so and help find disease, which would help the government prevent the spread of disease in the communities, ”says Aden. “Through the field exercise, I learned to identify gaps and challenges in disease surveillance and response in health facilities. I have studied the records for epidemiological weeks 1 to 36 for this year by reviewing logbooks, tally sheets, tables and graphs and have asked staff at health facilities about notification of disease alerts. , timeliness of notification and I discussed the challenges staff face in timely notification of alerts.

He added that efforts like this were important because they would help the country’s health system to streamline alert reporting and epidemic-prone disease surveillance.

Upon completion of the 3-month FETP-Frontline training program, Adan and other successful trainees will move on to intermediate and advanced level courses, while becoming trainers for the next cohort.

Impact of FETP

The evaluation of the first round of training shows an encouraging improvement in the knowledge of the trainees, which is now applied in their daily work. This program will increase the capacity of Somalia’s health workers in disease surveillance and outbreak response at all levels of service delivery. In addition, the training will develop the capacity of trainees and health facilities to detect and respond to disease outbreaks in a timely manner and to minimize the spread of disease to contain them. Trainees will also gain skills in communicating risks to the public and designing messages that will help policymakers and policymakers implement effective public health responses.

“The WHO Country Office for Somalia is fully committed to continuing to work alongside NIH, CDC and AFENET to roll out the next steps of the FETP program in Somalia, which will bring the country closer to the country. ‘current gap in the number of epidemiologists per 100,000 population in Somalia and build a strong cadre of detectives in line with the requirements of IHR 2005,’ said Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative in Somalia.

“The Frontline-FETP is one of the results of the close collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Health and our health development partners to address the most critical challenges of our health system, namely human resources for the health, ”said Dr. Abdifatah Diriye Ahmed, director of NIH.

WHO’s work to support the country’s FETP-Frontline training program in Somalia is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the work reflects WHO’s strong collaboration with its partner, the Swedish Public Health Agency to promote and support the activities of the NIH.

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