Freetown, Sierra Leone – On November 19, 2021, U.S. Ambassador David Reimer joined the Sierra Leone Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Austin Demby, and other dignitaries to congratulate 25 graduates of the tenth cohort of the Field Epidemiology and Training Program – Frontline. The graduation of this cohort of trainees is a significant milestone that demonstrates the ongoing progress to strengthen workforce capacity at each level of the public health system in Sierra Leone.
“I am pleased to be able to participate in my first FETP graduation in Sierra Leone – and I hope there will be many to come,” noted Ambassador Reimer. “The US government, through the Global Health Security Agenda, is committed to supporting impactful programs like FETP in Sierra Leone. This is a mission both of our governments share, and the Government of Sierra Leone has shown real leadership in establishing and building disease surveillance capacity at both the local and national levels.”
With the rise of emerging infectious diseases, field epidemiology is increasingly important. Strong response capacity can improve Sierra Leone’s ability to identify, investigate and respond to public health priority concerns. Trained FETP graduates throughout the country are able to conduct critical surveillance activities and outbreak investigations for infectious diseases like COVID-19 and viral hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola and Lassa fever. With this cohort of graduates, Sierra Leone now has a total of 226 public health professionals trained in field epidemiology and surveillance. The Ministry of Health and Sanitation will benefit from increased capacity to recognize public health problems pertinent to the population, a stronger culture of data-based decision making and a network of well-trained surveillance officers in the country who can communicate with the public about health issues.
The program represents a successful collaboration between the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to increase the number of health workers with epidemiological training in Sierra Leone.