About FETP

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” who help track, contain, and eliminate outbreaks before they become epidemics. When health threats strike, these trained disease detectives investigate and apply their knowledge to keep people from getting sick. They quickly communicate crucial information 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 toward keeping the world safer from disease threats.

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

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” and residents spend over 75% of their time in the field, learning about outbreak investigation, conducting studies, and training other healthcare workers.

These fellowships can last up to two years, and prepare disease detectives who are able to tackle the challenges of keeping people healthy. With three dedicated levels of training — Advanced, Intermediate, and Frontline — FETPs help build 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.

Where We Work

CDC has helped ensure that over 80 countries have access to FETP, and these programs have trained more than 19,000 graduates.

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.

For more information, review our FETP Fact Sheet.