Strengthening Public Health Workforce in Nigeria: NCDC Roll-Out First I-FETP
In 2008, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) with the support of the US-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) and African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) established the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (NFELTP). Since then, the NCDC, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the African Field Epidemiology Network have worked closely to strengthen it. This has now transitioned to Nigeria Field Epidemiology Training Programme (NFETP). The NFETP has three arms- advanced, frontline and intermediate programmes. The lower and higher levels public health workforce are usually admitted into the frontline and advanced levels.
Till date, the NCDC has supported deployment of different FETP cohorts of residents and graduates to support states to respond to various disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies. The swift country-wide deployment by the NCDC of this multi-disciplinary workforce at the peak of COVID-19 outbreak was indeed a success story as this was one of the strategies that contributed to the current level of outbreak control in Nigeria.
This was indeed the longest and largest deployment in history. We remain grateful to the Federal Republic of Nigeria for providing the needed resources to carry out our mandate of protecting Nigerians against the deadly virus.
Given the above, the NCDC has continued to prioritise public health workforce development through diverse strategies. We are working towards achieving the global goal of one trained field epidemiologist (or its equivalent) to 200,000 population. In line with this, the NCDC in collaboration with AFENET and US CDC on the 19th of April 2021 rolled out the Intermediate Nigeria Field Epidemiology Training Programme (I-NFETP).
This is the first time Nigeria is implementing I-NFETP and the purpose is to build a strong cohort of epidemiologists at both national and state level. It is a competency-based field epidemiology training to improve surveillance and response to priority diseases and other public health threats. The first cohort of 15 residents were recruited from the NCDC, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Federal Ministry of Environment. The training will be implemented over a nine-month period.
Given the success of the previous advanced and frontline programmes, we strongly believe the roll-out of this INFETP will continue to contribute to increased number of field epidemiologists for better epidemic intelligence and outbreak control in Nigeria.
The NCDC is committed to working with relevant tertiary institutions in Nigeria, to raise a strong workforce for our health security. More information on the I-NFETP can be found on the NCDC website here.