The Ethiopian Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (EFELTP) is a two-year, in-service training program in applied epidemiology and public health laboratory practice overseen by the Human Health Development Directorate of the Federal Ministry of Health. EFELTP operates as a collaborative effort among eight universities (Addis Ababa University, Saint Paulos Millennium Medical College, Gondar University, Bahir Dar University, Mekele University, Hawassa University, Haramaya University, and Jimma University), regional health bureaus, and other stakeholders, including the Ministry of Agriculture, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
EFELTP aims to train leaders in field epidemiology (human and veterinary) and public health practice and to provide epidemiologic services to federal, regional, and zonal government health institutions across Ethiopia. During their training, residents provide service to the Ministry of Health and regional health bureaus through long-term field placements. EFELTP’s field epidemiology component is modelled after the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) program. Residents spend 75 percent of their time in the field and 25 percent of their time in the classroom.
EFELTP’s objectives include:
Since EFELTP’s inception in 2009, the detection of public health events in Ethiopia has increased more than 95 percent, and timeliness and completeness of outbreak detection has gone over 85 percent. EFELTP residents and graduates been involved in detecting and responding to emerging and reemerging diseases including dengue fever, chikungunya, malaria, cholera, anthrax, and rabies, as well as vaccine-preventable diseases including measles and polio and non-communicable diseases including hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. EFELTP residents conducted surveillance for Ebola from 2014-2016, were involved in national nutritional surveillance from 2015-2016, and conducted surveillance among internally displaced persons in the southern part of Ethiopia in 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 140 residents and graduates have been involved in contact tracing, screening for COVID-19 at points of entry, laboratory testing, active case search, data management, and risk communication.
Overall, as of February 2021, EFELTP residents have conducted 767 outbreak investigations and performed more than 1,050 surveillance activities. They have delivered 79 presentations at scientific conferences and published 25 papers in peer-reviewed journals. Six EFELTP graduates have become the heads of public health emergency management within the regional health bureaus.