To assess the number of epidemiologists and epidemiology capacity nationally, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists surveyed state health departments in 2004, 2006, and 2009. This article summarizes findings of the 2009 assessment and analyzes five-year (2004–2009) trends in the epidemiology workforce.
Online surveys collected information from all 50 states and the District of Columbia about the number of epidemiologists employed, their training and education, program and technologic capacity, organizational structure, and funding sources. State epidemiologists were the key informants; 1,544 epidemiologists provided individual-level information.
The number of epidemiologists in state health departments decreased approximately 12% from 2004 to 2009. Two-thirds or more states reported less than substantial (<50% of optimum) surveillance and epidemiology capacity in five of nine program areas. Capacity has diminished since 2006 for three of four epidemiology-related Essential Services of Public Health (ESPHs). Fewer than half of all states reported using surveillance technologies such as Web-based provider reporting systems. State health departments need 68% more epidemiologists to reach optimal capacity in all program areas; smaller states (<5 million population) have higher epidemiologist-to-population ratios than more populous states.
Epidemiology capacity in state health departments is suboptimal and has decreased, as assessed by states' ability to carry out the ESPHs, by their ability to use newer surveillance technologies, and by the number of epidemiologists employed. Federal emergency preparedness funding, which supported more than 20% of state-based epidemiologists in 2006, has decreased. The 2009 Epidemiology Capacity Assessment demonstrates the negative impact of this decrease on states' epidemiology capacity.
Epidemiologists play critical roles in public health. However, until recently, no formal standards existed for epidemiology practice. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists drafted Competencies for Applied Epidemiologists in Governmental Public Health Agencies (AECs) that provide a foundation for expectations and training programs for three tiers of practice. We characterized the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) epidemiology workforce and assessed its baseline applied epidemiology competency by using these competencies.
Epidemiologists representing multiple divisions developed an Internet survey based on the AECs. Staff who met the definition of an epidemiologist were requested to complete the survey. Within eight skill domains, specific competencies were listed. For each competency, frequency and confidence in performing and need for training were measured by using Likert scales. Differences among tier levels were assessed using analysis of variance.
Eighty-eight people from 10 program areas responded and were included in the analysis. Median epidemiology experience was four years, with 52% having completed formal training. Respondents self-identified as Tier 1/entry-level (38%), Tier 2/mid-level (47%), or Tier 3/senior-level (15%) epidemiologists. Compared with lower tiers, Tier 3 epidemiologists more frequently performed financial or operational planning and management (p=0.023) and communication activities (p=0.018) and had higher confidence in assessment and analysis (p<0.001). Overall, training needs were highest for assessment/analysis and basic public health sciences skills.
VDH has a robust epidemiology workforce with varying levels of experience. Frequency and confidence in performing competencies varied by tier of practice. VDH plans to use these results and the AECs to target staff training activities.
The Florida Center for Public Health Preparedness in the University of South Florida College of Public Health and the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) collaborated to design, develop, and deliver two competency-based epidemiology training programs aimed at increasing the epidemiologic preparedness and response capability of the FDOH workforce. They were also designed to meet the requirements of the National Incident Management System and recommendations or needs identified in national studies. The basis for the trainings is an epidemiology competency set developed by the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine. The target audiences for the two trainings are non-epidemiologists or practicing epidemiologists who have relatively little formal education in epidemiology. Both courses have online as well as onsite modules. Alternate tabletop exercises have been completed and delivered for anthrax and plague. Both trainings require participant demonstration of skills. The trainings have been well received, appear to be effective, and are used to credential members of Florida's epidemiology strike teams.
The Florida Epidemic Intelligence Service Program was created in 2001 to increase epidemiologic capacity within the state. Patterned after applied epidemiology training programs such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Epidemic Intelligence Service and the California Epidemiologic Investigation Service, the two-year postgraduate program is designed to train public leaders of the future. The long-term goal is to increase the capacity of the Florida Department of Health to respond to new challenges in disease control and prevention. Placement is with experienced epidemiologists in county health departments/consortia. Fellows participate in didactic and experiential components, and complete core activities for learning as evidence of competency. As evidenced by graduate employment, the program is successfully meeting its goal. As of 2006, three classes (n=18) have graduated. Among graduates, 83% are employed as epidemiologists, 67% in Florida. Training in local health departments and an emphasis on graduate retention may assist states in strengthening their epidemiologic capacity.
We determined the competency of the public health epidemiology workforce within state health agencies based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists Competencies for Applied Epidemiologists in Governmental Public Health Agencies (AECs).
The competence level of current state health agency staff and the need for additional training was assessed against 30 mid-level AECs. Respondents used a five-point Likert scale—ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”—to designate whether staff was competent in certain areas or whether additional training was needed for each of the competencies.
Most states indicated their epidemiology workforce was competent in most of the AECs subject areas. Subject areas with the greatest number of states reporting competency (82%) are creating and managing databases and applying privacy laws. However, at least one-third of the states reported a need for additional training in all competencies assessed. The greatest reported needs were for additional training in surveillance system evaluation and use of knowledge of environmental and behavioral science in epidemiology practice.
The results indicate that most epidemiologists mastered the traditional discipline-specific competencies. However, it is unclear how this level of competency was achieved and what strategies are in place to sustain and strengthen it. The results indicate that epidemiologists have lower levels of competence in the nontraditional epidemiologic fields of knowledge. Future steps to ensure a well-qualified epidemiology workforce include assessing the full AECs in a subgroup of Tier 2 epidemiologists and implementing competencies in academic curricula to sustain reported competency achievements.
Health workforce has become a major concern and a significant health policy issue around the world in recent years. With recent international and national initiatives and models being developed and implemented in Australia and other countries, it is timely to understand the need and the rationale for a better trained and educated public health workforce for the future. Much more attention should also be given to evaluation and research in this field.
Through this thematic series on Workforce and Public Health, we have drawn on the diverse nature of public health, workforce implications, education and training and national and international case examples of ongoing improvements and issues in this sector.
Laboratories are integral to the delivery of quality health care and for public health functions; however laboratory systems and services are often neglected in resource-poor settings such as the East African region. In order to sustainably strengthen national laboratory systems in resource-poor countries, there is a need to train laboratory personnel to work in clinical as well as public health laboratories. In 2004,Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and South Sudan began training public health laboratory workers jointly with field epidemiologists in the Kenya Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP), and later through the Tanzania FELTP, as a strategy to strengthen public health laboratories. These programs train laboratory epidemiologists through a two-year public health leadership development course, and also offer various types of short course training for frontline staff. The FELTP laboratory graduates in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Sudan are working in their respective countries to strengthen public health laboratory systems while the short course participants provide a pool of frontline implementers with the capacity to support the lower tiers of health systems, as well as serve as surge capacity for the regions and the national level. Through training competent public health laboratory workers, the East African ministries of health, in collaboration with other regional partners and stakeholders are now engaged in developing and implementing a holistic approach that will guarantee an overall strengthening of the health system by using well-trained public health laboratory leaders to drive the process. Strengthening public health laboratory medicine in East Africa is critical to improve health-care systems. The experience with the FELTP model in East Africa is a step in the right direction towards ensuring a stronger role for the laboratory in public health.
FELTP; Tanzania; Kenya; laboratory epidemiologists
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.
epidemiology; education; training; public health; Central Africa
Rwanda still suffers from communicable diseases which frequently lead to epidemics. In addition to other health workforce needs, Rwanda also lacks a public health workforce that can operate multi-disease surveillance and response systems at the national and sub-national levels.In 2009 and 2010 the Rwanda Ministry of Health and its partners from the Government of Rwanda (GOR) as well as the United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the African Field Epidemiology Network, and other partners embarked on a series of activities to develop a public health workforce that would be trained to operate disease surveillance and response systems at the national and district levels. The Rwanda Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (RFELTP) is a 2-year public health leadership development training program that provides applied epidemiology and public health laboratory training while the trainees provide public health service to the Ministry of Health. RFELTP is hosted at the National University of Rwanda School of Public Health for the didactic training. RFELTP is funded by GOR, the US Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the World Bank; it is managed by a multi-sectoral steering committee headed by the Minister of Health. The first RFELTP cohort has 15 residents who were recruited from key health programs in GOR. Over the first year of implementation, these 15 residents have conducted a variety of field investigations and responded to several outbreaks. RFELTP has also trained 145 frontline health workers through its two-week applied short courses. In the future, RFELTP plans to develop a veterinary track to address public health issues at the animal-human interface.
Rwanda; field epidemiology; outbreak investigation; FELTPS; public health
The development of the British public health services is briefly reviewed and it is suggested that two types of epidemiologist (Community Physician) are necessary in each locality: one concerned with medical administration and health care planning-the medical administrator, and the other with the prevention of disease-the clinical epidemiologist. A new nation public health service is proposed to revive disease prevention with four main features: (1) A district Clinical Epidemiologist who is a member of the district department of community medicine with responsibility for prevention but with no district administrative duties. (2) A District Epidemiology Unit comprising other appropriate staff. (3) National specialist epidemiology units within the NHS with service roles to support and coordinate the District Clinical Epidemiologists. (4) A national authority within the NHS with responsibility for prevention and for administering the national specialist units.
Public health educational pathways in Australia have traditionally been the province of Universities, with the Master of Public Health (MPH) recognised as the flagship professional entry program. Public health education also occurs within the fellowship training of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, but within Australia this remains confined to medical graduates. In recent years, however, we have seen a proliferation of undergraduate degrees as well as an increasing public health presence in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.
Following the 2007 Australian Federal election, the new Labour government brought with it a refreshing commitment to a more inclusive and strategic style of government. An important example of this was the 2020 visioning process that identified key issues of public health concern, including an acknowledgment that it was unacceptable to allocate less than 2% of the health budget towards disease prevention. This led to the recommendation for the establishment of a national preventive health agency (Australia: the healthiest country by 2020 National Preventative Health Strategy, Prepared by the Preventative Health Taskforce 2009).
The focus on disease prevention places a spotlight on the workforce that will be required to deliver the new investment in health prevention, and also on the role of public health education in developing and upskilling the workforce. It is therefore timely to reflect on trends, challenges and opportunities from a tertiary sector perspective. Is it more desirable to focus education efforts on selected lead issues such as the "obesity epidemic", climate change, Indigenous health and so on, or on the underlying theory and skills that build a flexible workforce capable of responding to a range of health challenges? Or should we aspire to both?
This paper presents some of the key discussion points from 2008 - 2009 of the Public Health Educational Pathways workshops and working group of the Australian Network of Public Health Institutions. We highlight some of the competing tensions in public health tertiary education, their impact on public health training programs, and the educational pathways that are needed to grow, shape and prepare the public health workforce for future challenges.
Research is a major driver of health care improvement and evidence-based practice is becoming the foundation of health care delivery. For health professions to develop within emerging models of health care delivery, it would seem imperative to develop and monitor the research capacity and evidence-based literacy of the health care workforce. This observational paper aims to report the research capacity levels of statewide populations of public-sector podiatrists at two different time points twelve-months apart.
The Research Capacity & Culture (RCC) survey was electronically distributed to all Queensland Health (Australia) employed podiatrists in January 2011 (n = 58) and January 2012 (n = 60). The RCC is a validated tool designed to measure indicators of research skill in health professionals. Participants rate skill levels against each individual, team and organisation statement on a 10-point scale (one = lowest, ten = highest). Chi-squared and Mann Whitney U tests were used to determine any differences between the results of the two survey samples. A minimum significance of p < 0.05 was used throughout.
Thirty-seven (64%) podiatrists responded to the 2011 survey and 33 (55%) the 2012 survey. The 2011 survey respondents reported low skill levels (Median < 4) on most aspects of individual research aspects, except for their ability to locate and critically review research literature (Median > 6). Whereas, most reported their organisation’s skills to perform and support research at much higher levels (Median > 6). The 2012 survey respondents reported significantly higher skill ratings compared to the 2011 survey in individuals’ ability to secure research funding, submit ethics applications, and provide research advice, plus, in their organisation’s skills to support, fund, monitor, mentor and engage universities to partner their research (p < 0.05).
This study appears to report the research capacity levels of the largest populations of podiatrists published. The 2011 survey findings indicate podiatrists have similarly low research capacity skill levels to those reported in the allied health literature. The 2012 survey, compared to the 2011 survey, suggests podiatrists perceived higher skills and support to initiate research in 2012. This improvement coincided with the implementation of research capacity building strategies.
Podiatry; Research; Culture; Capacity; Australia
Applied epidemiologists are increasingly working in areas of insecurity and active conflict to define the health risks, suggest feasible means to reduce these risks and, monitor the capacity and reconstruction of the public health system. In 2001, The Carter Center and the United States Institute for Peace sponsored a conference within which "Violence and Health" was discussed and a working group on applied epidemiology formed. The group was tasked to describe the skills that are essential to effective functioning in these settings and thereby provide guidance to the applied epidemiology training programs.
We conducted a literature review and consultation of a convenience sample of practitioners of applied epidemiology with experience in conflict areas.
Results and conclusions
The health programs designed to prevent and mitigate conflict are in their early stages of implementation and the evaluation measures for success are still being defined. The practice of epidemiology in conflict must occur within a larger humanitarian and political context to be effective. The skills required extend beyond the normal epidemiological training that focuses on the valid collection and interpretation of data and fall into two general categories: (1) Conducting a thorough assessment of the conflict setting in order to design more effective public health action in conflict settings, and (2) Communicating effectively to guide health program implementation, to advocate for needed policy changes and to facilitate interagency coordination. These are described and illustrated using examples from different countries.
There is a severe shortage of nurses in Australia. Policy makers and researchers are especially concerned that retention levels of nurses in the health workforce have worsened over the last decade. There are also concerns that rapidly growing private sector hospitals are attracting qualified nurses away from the public sector. To date no systematic analysis of trends in nursing retention rates over time has been conducted due to the lack of consistent panel data.
A 1.4 percentage point improvement in retention has led to a 10% increase in the overall supply of nurses in NSW. There has also been a substantial aging of the workforce, due to greater retention and an increase in mature age entrants. The improvement in retention is found in all types of premises and is largest in nursing homes. There is a substantial amount of year to year movement in and out of the workforce and across premises. The shortage of nurses in public hospitals is due to a slowdown in entry rather than competition from the rapidly growing private sector hospitals.
The finding of an improvement (rather than a worsening) in retention suggests that additional improvements may be difficult to achieve as further retention must involve individuals more and more dissatisfied with nursing relative to other opportunities. Hence policies targeting entry such as increased places in nursing programs and additional subsidies for training costs may be more effective in dealing with the workforce shortage. This is also the case for shortages in public sector hospitals as retention in nursing is found to be relatively high in this sector. However, the large amount of year to year movements across nursing jobs, especially among the younger nurses, also suggests that policies aimed at reducing job switches and increasing the number who return to nursing should also be pursued. More research is needed in understanding the relative importance of detailed working conditions and the problems associated with combining family responsibilities and nursing jobs.
In 1983, the State Epidemiologists in 46 States completed a survey questionnaire describing the professional qualifications, training, and experience of State health department epidemiologists and the scope of participation by the State Epidemiologists and their staffs in public health programs. The survey identified 224 State health department epidemiologists (estimated U.S. ratio 1.1 per million population). A State health department epidemiologist was most often male (80 percent), frequently (57 percent) was a physician, had an average age of 41 years, and had worked as an epidemiologist for 9 years. Participation in public health programs (either by supervising or providing consultation) by the State Epidemiologists and their staffs focused mainly on general epidemiology and communicable disease programs; fewer than half had participated in programs relating to the health of women and children, chronic diseases, injuries, or in other programs directed towards preventing premature mortality. Recently, the State Epidemiologists have been trying to broaden their activities into these areas; however, the demands created by the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) will mostly likely slow this process. Based on the overall findings and collective experience, it was concluded that State health departments have too few epidemiologists to address the wide variety of important public health problems facing our communities. It was proposed that each State health department have at least four epidemiologists (including one or more physician epidemiologists) and at least one master's level biostatistician and that the epidemiologists-per-population ratio not be less than 1 per million.
Over the last two decades, concern has been expressed about the readiness of the public health workforce to adequately address the scientific, technological, social, political and economic challenges facing the field. A 1988 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) served as a catalyst for the re-examination of the public health workforce. The IOM's call to increase the relevance of public health education and training prompted a renewed effort to identify competences needed by public health personnel and the organizations that employ them.
A recent evaluation sought to address the role of the 10 essential public health services in job services among the Texas public health workforce. Additionally, the evaluation examined the Texas public health workforce's need for training in the 10 essential public health services.
Results and conclusion
Overall, the level of perceived training needs varied dramatically by job category and health department type. When comparing aggregate training needs, public health workers with greater day-to-day contact (nurses, health educators) indicated a greater need for training than their peers who did not, such as those working in administrative positions. When prioritizing and designing future training modules regarding the 10 essential public health services, trainers should consider the effects of job function, location and contact with the public.
In November 1989, representatives from 12 States attending the Annual Convocation of Southern State Epidemiologists completed a survey to enumerate epidemiologists working in central offices of State health departments. Epidemiologists were classified according to education and program area. A total of 117 epidemiologists were identified, yielding a range among the States of 0.6 to 8.3 (median 1.9) epidemiologists per million population. The most common degree was a medical degree, followed by master's training in epidemiology or biostatistics; only 9 percent had doctoral training in epidemiology or biostatistics. More than one-third of the epidemiologists worked in infectious diseases, including acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and sexually transmitted diseases, and about one-fifth worked in environmental epidemiology. The areas of injuries, cancer, chronic diseases, maternal and child health, and occupational health collectively accounted for about one-fifth of epidemiologists. The results of the survey suggest room for further epidemiologic training among health department epidemiologists. The results also identify areas where additional epidemiologic input would be beneficial.
This article compares activities of the University of Michigan School of Public Health Public Health Action Support Team (PHAST) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists Applied Epidemiology Competencies (AECs) to determine the utility of using the competencies to assess extracurricular student training. We mapped the activities from eight PHAST trips occurring from 2006 to 2009 to the 34 AECs for Tier 1 epidemiologists by examining project activities to determine how closely they aligned with the AECs. PHAST trips provided students with opportunities to address 65% of the AECs; 29% of the AECs were addressed by all eight trips. The domains of AECs most often addressed by PHAST trips were leadership and systems thinking, cultural competency, and community dimensions of practice. Mapping PHAST trips to the AECs was useful for all public health students, not just epidemiologists in training.
In 2002, the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice (NWCPHP) at the University of Washington initiated the Epidemiology Competencies Project, with the goal of developing competency-based epidemiology training for non-epidemiologist public health practitioners in the northwestern United States. An advisory committee consisting of epidemiology faculty and experienced public health practitioners developed the epidemiology competencies. NWCPHP used the competencies to guide the development of in-person trainings, a series of online epidemiology modules, and a Web-based repository of epidemiology teaching materials. The epidemiology competencies provided a framework for collaborative work between NWCPHP and local and regional public health partners to develop trainings that best met the needs of a particular public health organization. Evaluation surveys indicated a high level of satisfaction with the online epidemiology modules developed from the epidemiology competencies. However, measuring the effectiveness of -competency-based epidemiology training for expanding epidemiology knowledge and skills of the public health workforce remains a challenge.
We developed competencies for applied epidemiologic practice by using a process that is based on existing competency frameworks, that engages professionals in academic and applied epidemiology at all governmental levels (local, state, and federal), and that provides ample opportunity for input from practicing epidemiologists throughout the U.S.
The model set of core public health competencies, consisting of eight core domains of public health practice, developed in 2001 by the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice, were adopted as the foundation of the Competencies for Applied Epidemiologists in Governmental Public Health Agencies (AECs). A panel of experts was convened and met over a period of 20 months to develop a draft set of AECs. Drafts were presented at the annual meetings of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and the American Public Health Association. Input and comments were also solicited from practicing epidemiologists and 14 national organizations representing epidemiology and public health.
In all, we developed 149 competency statements across the eight domains of public health practice and four tiers of applied epidemiologic practice. In addition, sub- and sub-subcompetency statements were developed to increase the document's specificity. During the process, >800 comments from all governmental and academic levels and tiers of epidemiology practice were considered for the final statements.
The AECs are available for use in improving the training for and skill levels of practicing applied epidemiologists and should also be useful for educators, employers, and supervisors. Both CDC and CSTE plan to evaluate their implementation and usefulness in providing information for future competency development.
This paper reviews the challenges facing the public health workforce in developing countries and the main policy issues that must be addressed in order to strengthen the public health workforce. The public health workforce is diverse and includes all those whose prime responsibility is the provision of core public health activities, irrespective of their organizational base. Although the public health workforce is central to the performance of health systems, very little is known about its composition, training or performance. The key policy question is: Should governments invest more in building and supporting the public health workforce and infrastructure to ensure the more effective functioning of health systems? Other questions concern: the nature of the public health workforce, including its size, composition, skills, training needs, current functions and performance; the appropriate roles of the workforce; and how the workforce can be strengthened to support new approaches to priority health problems.
The available evidence to shed light on these policy issues is limited. The World Health Organization is supporting the development of evidence to inform discussion on the best approaches to strengthening public health capacity in developing countries. WHO's priorities are to build an evidence base on the size and structure of the public health workforce, beginning with ongoing data collection activities, and to map the current public health training programmes in developing countries and in Central and Eastern Europe. Other steps will include developing a consensus on the desired functions and activities of the public health workforce and developing a framework and methods for assisting countries to assess and enhance the performance of public health training institutions and of the public health workforce.
The South Africa Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (SAFELTP) was created in 2006 after recognizing the need to build and sustain the country's human resource capacity in field (applied) epidemiology and public health practice. The programme was formed as a collaboration between the South Africa Department of Health (DoH), the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the University of Pretoria. The primary goal of the programme was to produce field-trained epidemiologists equipped with knowledge and practical skills to effectively and efficiently address the public health priorities of South Africa. SAFELTP is a 2-year full-time training, consisting of a combination of classroom-based instruction (30%) and mentored field work (70%). The training places emphasis on public health surveillance, investigation of disease epidemics, public health laboratory practice and communication of epidemiologic information, among other aspects of epidemiology research. At completion, residents are awarded a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of Pretoria. Since its inception in 2006, 48 residents have enrolled onto the programme and 30 (62%) of them have completed the training. Over the past 5 years, the residents have conducted more than 92 outbreak investigations, 47 surveillance evaluations, 19 planned studies, analyzed 37 large databases and presented more than 56 papers at local and international conferences. In recognition of the high-quality work, at least five SAFELTP residents have received awards at various international scientific conferences during the 5 years. In conclusion, the South Africa FELTP is now fully established and making valuable contributions to the country's public health system, albeit with innumerable challenges.
Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program; South Africa; public health; outbreak; surveillance; International Health Regulations
Epidemiologists and environmental health researchers have a joint responsibility to acquire scientific knowledge that matters to public health and to apply the knowledge gained in public health practice. We examine the nature and source of these social responsibilities, discuss a debate in the epidemiological literature on roles and responsibilities, and cite approaches to environmental justice as reflective of them. At one level, responsibility refers to accountability, as in being responsible for actions taken. A deeper meaning of responsibility corresponds to commitment to the pursuit and achievement of a valued end. Epidemiologists are committed to the scientific study of health and disease in human populations and to the application of scientific knowledge to improve the public's health. Responsibility is also closely linked to reliability. Responsible professionals reliably perform the tasks they set for themselves as well as the tasks society expects them to undertake. The defining axiom for our approach is that the health of the public is a social good we commit ourselves to pursue, thus assuming an obligation to contribute to its achievement. Epidemiologists cannot claim to be committed to public health as a social good and not accept the responsibility of ensuring that the knowledge gained in their roles as scientists is used to achieve that good. The social responsibilities of environmental health researchers are conspicuous in the environmental justice movement, for example, in community-based participatory research. Responsibility is an ethical concept particularly well suited to frame many key aspects of the ethics of our profession.
The occurrence of major zoonotic disease outbreaks in Sub-Saharan Africa has had a significant impact on the already constrained public health systems. This has, as a result, justified the need to identify creative strategies to address threats from emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases at the human-animal-environmental interface, and implement robust multi-disease public health surveillance systems that will enhance early detection and response. Additionally, enhanced reporting and timely investigation of all suspected notifiable infectious disease threats within the health system is vital. Field epidemiology and laboratory training programs (FELTPs) have made significant contributions to public health systems for more than 10 years by producing highly skilled field epidemiologists. These epidemiologists have not only improved disease surveillance and response to outbreaks, but also improved management of health systems. Furthermore, the FETPs/FELTPs have laid an excellent foundation that brings clinicians, veterinarians, and environmental health professionals drawn from different governmental sectors, to work with a common purpose of disease control and prevention. The emergence of the One Health approach in the last decade has coincided with the present, paradigm, shift that calls for multi-sectoral and cross-sectoral collaboration towards disease surveillance, detection, reporting and timely response. The positive impact from the integration of FETP/FELTP and the One Health approach by selected programs in Africa has demonstrated the importance of multi-sectoral collaboration in addressing threats from infectious and non- infectious causes to man, animals and the environment.
Field epidemiology; training; one health; disease surveillance
Medical migration sees the providers of medical services (in particular medical practitioners) moving from one region or country to another. This creates problems for the provision of public health and medical services and poses challenges for laws in the nation state and for laws in the global community.
There exists a global shortage of healthcare professionals. Nation states and health rights movements have been both responsible for, and responsive to, this global community shortage through a variety of health policy, regulation and legislation which directly affects the migration of medical providers. The microcosm responses adopted by individual nation states, such as Australia, to this workforce shortage further impact on the global workforce shortage through active recruitment of overseas-trained healthcare professionals. "Push" and "pull" factors exist which encourage medical migration of healthcare professionals. A nation state's approach to health policy, regulation and legislation dramatically helps to create these "push factors" and "pull factors". A co-ordinated global response is required with individual nation states being cognisant of the impact of their health policy, regulations and legislation on the global community through the medical migration of healthcare professionals.