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Field Epidemiology Training Program: About Us

What We Do: Expand the Global Public Health Workforce

At CDC, people are at the heart of everything we do. One way we keep people safe is through the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), which trains a global workforce of field epidemiologists, or “disease detectives.”

Disease detectives are our “boots on the ground,” helping track, contain, and eliminate outbreaks before they become epidemics. When health threats strike, trained disease detectives investigate and use what they’ve learned to prevent people from getting sick. They communicate crucial information quickly about health problems in a community, including infectious and noncommunicable diseases and environmental hazards.

Why It’s Important

FETPs increase our ability to detect and respond to threats. In a world where the next outbreak is only a plane ride away, disease detectives help countries identify and stop health threats close to the source—both those we anticipate and those we don’t expect.

FETPs address the severe worldwide shortage of skilled epidemiologists. They help countries build critical global health security capabilities by expanding their public health workforce.

FETPs build critical relationships with other countries. The ongoing success of our training programs has fostered strong, mutually beneficial relationships with ministries of health and other partners in countries around the world. By exchanging ideas and cultivating relationships, FETPs have laid the foundation – and, in many cases, opened the door – for CDC to establish other important health initiatives and work twhereoward keeping the world safer from disease threats.

How We Do It

We work closely with partner countries to establish FETPs across the globe. Our training programs create a cadre of well-trained disease detectives with the skills to gather critical data and turn it into action. Training focuses on “learning by doing.” Residents spend over 75% of their time in the field investigating outbreaks, conducting studies, and training other healthcare workers in their countries.

These fellowships, which can last up to two years, prepare experts to tackle the challenges of keeping people healthy. Three levels of FETP training–Advanced, Intermediate, and Frontline –help meet national, regional, and local capabilities to stop diseases at the source.

FETPs are modeled on CDC’s successful Epidemic Intelligence Service program, but are owned by individual countries and ministries of health. Each FETP is tailored to meet the needs of its country.

FETP residents and graduates respond to the world’s most urgent health events, including:

Where We Work

Over 70 countries have participated in CDC-supported FETPs. FETPs have trained more than 10,000 graduates across the three programs, more than 80% of whom continue to work in their home countries in leadership positions.

Our Organization

Our work is only possible through partnerships. Ministries of health are our main partners in building and sustaining FETPs. FETP programs around the world are linked through networks that share information and support one another. The largest of these networks is TEPHINET, which reaches more than 100 countries.

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