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Central African Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program: building and strengthening regional workforce capacity in public health

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The Central African Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (CAFELTP) is a 2-year public health leadership capacity building training program. It was established in October 2010 to enhance capacity for applied epidemiology and public health laboratory services in three countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The aim of the program is to develop a trained public health workforce to assure that acute public health events are detected, investigated, and responded to quickly and effectively. The program consists of 25% didactic and 75% practical training (field based activities). Although the program is still in its infancy, the residents have already responded to six outbreak investigations in the region, evaluated 18 public health surveillance systems and public health programs, and completed 18 management projects. Through these various activities, information is shared to understand similarities and differences in the region leading to new and innovative approaches in public health. The program provides opportunities for regional and international networking in field epidemiology and laboratory activities, and is particularly beneficial for countries that may not have the immediate resources to host an individual country program. Several of the trainees from the first cohort already hold leadership positions within the ministries of health and national laboratories, and will return to their assignments better equipped to face the public health challenges in the region. They bring with them knowledge, practical training, and experiences gained through the program to shape the future of the public health landscape in their countries. Pan African Medical Journal 2011; 10(Supp 1):4

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