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Division of Public Health Systems and Workforce Development: Overview


Our vision is that countries throughout the world have effective and equitable public health systems to protect communities and enable people to live healthy and productive lives.


Working with Ministries of Health (MOHs) and public health partners, we are committed to strengthening public health systems and developing the workforce using solid science and innovative programs.

We aim to build sustainable capacity that meets our partners' national priorities. We believe that strong public health systems are needed to improve and protect the public's health and to respond effectively to the ever-changing and increasing global public health challenges. We are committed to effectively collaborate with our public health partners and to respect the diversity of global public health practices, resources, and experiences.


Using systems development programs such as Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETP), Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programs (FELTP), Sustainable Management Development Program (SMDP), Global Public Health Informatics Program (GPHIP), Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR), and other programs, we help MOHs around the world build strong, effective, sustainable programs and capacity to improve public health systems on a local, regional, and national level.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia (U.S.A.), the Division of Public Health Systems and Workforce Development is part of the Center for Global Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The division’s strategy is to work with partners to strengthen the global public health workforce, support public health systems, and achieve program sustainability through key strategies that emphasize applying public health science and practice and demonstrating measurable public health impact. We aim to achieve these goals through:

  • Field Epidemiology. We work with ministries of health (MOHs) and other ministries and public health institutions to strengthen their epidemiology workforce through the division’s flagship residency-based programs in applied epidemiology, the Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETPs) and the Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programs (FELTPs). A combination of classroom-based instruction and mentored practical work allows residents to receive hands-on multi-disciplinary training in public health surveillance, outbreak investigation, laboratory management, program evaluation, and other aspects of epidemiologic research and methodology. Through the FE(L)TP, short courses, and other programs, we help to train hundreds of public health professional on the principles of epidemiology, surveillance and outbreak response, and public health practice to address specific country needs.
  • Public Health Surveillance and Response Systems. We work with partner MOHs to strengthen their public health surveillance and response systems for priority disease conditions. FETP and FELTP residents learn about surveillance, disease or outbreak detection, confirmation, reporting, analysis and feedback of disease data, and implementation of effective public health responses in a participatory approach. As graduates, they apply these skills in their work for the MOH to operate and further strengthen the public health surveillance and response systems and to use the information for more effective disease detection, control, and prevention.
  • Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR). Instituted in 1998 by the World Health Organization African Regional Office (WHO AFRO) and later identified as a primary strategy for African countries to build the detection and response capabilities required under the International Health Regulations, IDSR aims to improve the availability and use of surveillance and laboratory data for control of priority infectious diseases that are the leading cause of death, disability, and illness in the African region. Through technical assistance and development of guidelines and tools, the CDC’s IDSR Team works closely with African ministries of health to implement strategies and activities for improving surveillance and response to priority infectious diseases in Africa. IDSR is the surveillance strategy taught to FETP residents in Africa.
  • Public Health Leadership and Management. Through strategic partnerships with public health training institutions, faculty development in our Management for International Public Health course, and technical program assistance, the Sustainable Management Development Program (SMDP) works with partner countries to develop leadership and management programs for public health professionals. Our approach combines experiential training and supervised applied management improvement projects to help public health professionals acquire the knowledge and skills needed to improve organizational performance, shape the public health agenda, and strengthen public health practice in their countries.
  • Public Health Informatics: The Global Public Health Informatics Program (GPHIP) supports the division’s mission to expand opportunities to work with the global health community to standardize, strengthen, integrate, exchange, share, and ensure interoperability of disparate datasets, tools, and services to maximize public health impact. GPHIP’s vision is to transform public health practice through informatics. Its mission is to improve health outcomes, quality, and safety through interoperable, integrated, and standardized information systems that are able to capture, track, report, and exchange data and improve decisions.
  • Public Health Systems Strengthening in Fragile States: Combining the division’s programmatic and technical resources with those of other technical units around CDC, we provide support to many partner governments of countries emerging from war, civil war, natural disasters, and other causes of instability to assist them in building, rebuilding, or strengthening their critical public health systems and workforce. These activities contribute to larger, multilateral reconstruction and stabilization efforts.

Our teams of epidemiologists, public health advisors, management trainers, instructional designers, health educators, health communication specialists, and support staff provide scientific expertise, training consultations, and other programmatic support and advice to help MOHs enhance their health protection and health promotion programs.

Our Resident Advisors are assigned to MOHs and provide direct technical assistance in developing and sustaining the FE(L)TPs, and assist with training, mentoring, and system strengthening. Our team has developed curricula, tools, and training material in all areas of epidemiology, biostatistics, management, and public health communication skills, to mention a few examples. Our Atlanta-based team provides technical assistance and support both from Atlanta and on-site.

Our work is only possible through partnerships. Ministries of health are our main partners in building workforce and systems capacity. Collaboration and partnerships include other CDC units, especially the Global AIDS Program and the Global Disease Detection Program. Externally, we have built strong partnerships with many national and international organizations such as the World Health Organization, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ellison Medical Foundation, the Carter Center, and the World Bank. We also have strong partnerships with the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET) and regional FETP networks –the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), the Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (EMPHNET), the South Asia Field Epidemiology and Technology Network (SAFETYNET) and REDSUR (the network of FETPs in Latin America).

  • Page last reviewed: September 26, 2011
  • Page last updated: September 26, 2011
  • Content source: Global Health
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