Iraq Field Epidemiology Training Program (I-FETP)

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The Iraq FETP was established following dialogues held between the MOH, the CDC, and the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). The WHO Iraq country office had a pivotal role in coordinating efforts, which resulted in the program’s establishment  in 2009.

The Iraq FETP is a two-year postgraduate program focused on field epidemiology. The program is open to physicians and is linked with the University of Baghdad and the Baghdad College of Medicine. Upon completion of requirements, graduates are awarded a Higher Diploma in Field Epidemiology.

The program’s vision is to develop a network of skilled and motivated field epidemiologists to strengthen national public health workforce capacity. Program residents are trained in applied epidemiology to reduce the burden of major public health challenges in Iraq. The program works to provide field epidemiologists with the skills needed to:

  • Detect, investigate, and respond to public health events
  • Conduct integrated surveillance
  • Evaluate public health programs
  • Use data for decision making

The expected outcomes from the program include:

  • Strengthened response to acute problems, and priority health problems
  • Use of evidence-based policies and decision-making
  • Enhanced surveillance systems
  • Strengthened communication of epidemiologic information

The program provides residents with a multi-disciplinary, field-based training. The training covers health research methodology, epidemiology, biostatistics, public health surveillance, laboratory and economic analysis and evaluation, management, leadership, epidemiology of communicable diseases, and epidemiology of NCDs. The program strives to develop rapid response teams consisting of three field epidemiologists in each of the 18 provinces of Iraq.

Program residents spend the first three months of training in didactic courses covering different aspects of public health. These courses are instructed by the Department of Community Medicine, College of Medicine at Baghdad University. Following the completion of the courses, residents spend 10 weeks completing internship in various departments within the MOH. This internship is aimed at granting the residents necessary orientation on a range of programs run by the MOH. Residents are exposed to surveillance systems, health information systems, prevention and control programs, and monitoring and evaluation methods, among other activities. The residents are then assigned to work in one program area for the remaining training period, part of their time will be spent at the central level and the remaining at the province level.

During the program, residents participate in outbreak investigations, surveillance analysis, supervisory visits, MOH survey compilation, and other activities. Residents are requested to periodically present surveillance reports to the MOH and other stakeholders. Additionally, residents take part in a project designed to improve an existing surveillance system. Program managers mentor residents throughout the duration of the program activities. While working at the province level, residents are requested to complete their Higher Diploma dissertation on a priority public health issue in the country.