U.S. Ambassador to Lao PDR Rena Bitter joined Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Phouthone Meungpak and World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Lao PDR, Dr. Juliet Fleischl to congratulate the eighth cohort of field epidemiology trainees during their graduation ceremony at the Don Chan Palace Hotel on February 27.
The Lao Field Epidemiology Training (FET) program trains health professionals to detect, investigate, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. Established in 2009 by the Department of Communicable Disease Control and the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology with support from the U.S. government and the WHO, the program has an alumni network of 63 graduates working in public health in all provinces. It has become the cornerstone of disease outbreak response investigation and surveillance activities in the country.
“The U.S. Government is proud to support the FET program. Together we can use the knowledge gained in this program to combat emerging and re-emerging disease threats. The work you will do will make a very real contribution to public health in the Lao PDR,” said Ambassador Bitter while speaking to the graduates.
The capacities of health security-related institutions have increased significantly in recent years. The one-year FET program that includes a combination of classroom training and field work ensures that trainees know how to respond to surveillance and outbreak investigations.
The FET program graduates will be assigned back to their provinces to continue their work in field epidemiology. The graduates expressed confidence that their training provided them with practical skills to deal with outbreak investigation and risk assessment.