By Awa B. Bah
The ministry of Health and Social Welfare in collaboration with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) and the Field Epidemiology Training Programme (FETP), on Thursday 28th September 2017 held its graduation ceremony of cohort three and four, on the Gambia Frontline Field Epidemiological Training Programme, at a local hotel in Senegambia. The one hundred and two trainees comprising fifty-six surveillance officers drawn from different public institutions, but mostly form the ministry of health and social welfare, went through a three-month intensive training on Epidemiology Surveillance.
The Director of Health Services Mamadou Cham, said the training of the Frontline Surveyors underscores the commitment of the health ministry and social welfare and said this was established and implemented with the sole intention of manning strategic locations in their surveillance efforts. Mr. Cham extended his appreciation to the CDC, AFENET and the American Government for the commitment towards the training. He assured that the ministry of health will continue to mobilize resources for the continuation of training in surveillance to have a wider cohort of trainees.
Dr. Herbert Kazoora, an Epidemiologist said AFENET supports the Gambia’s surveillance program and many other programmes in implementing the workforce development effort. Dr. Kazoora congratulated the graduates for completing the intensive training program. He said the end of the training marks the full beginning of a new era in their careers since the ministry of health is expecting great improvement within the surveillance system.
Ken Johnson Public Health Adviser, Field Epidemiology training program of the CDC, commended the ministry of health for taking public health officers through the surveillance system which he said, is key in their daily health work. He called on the graduates to make the best use of the knowledge gained.
The Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces General Masanneh Kinteh, said the graduation marks another great achievement by the ministry of health and social welfare in the development and capacity building of public health officials; that these types of training will help the country to strengthen its close watch on all types of diseases. The security service he said is key in surveillance and can be very resourceful in efficient surveillance systems in the country.
The US ambassador to the Gambia, Patricia Alsup, said the need for Basic Epidemiology training became apparent during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa; that the aim of the training is to strengthen the response to diseases in terms of public health avoidance at both national and international levels. She urged the graduates to be adequately prepared in their response to public health concerns.
The other speakers at the ceremony was Amadou Wurry Jallow of the National Disease Surveillance Program. Mr. Jallow challenged the new graduates to develop a strong road map in their duties as public health officers.
The graduation ceremony was highlighted with scientific presentations by Abdoulie Dibba, District Surveillance Officer at Bakau Health Center, Sainabaou Sohna, Nursing Officer AT Farafenni Regional Hospital and Alieu Jammeh of the National Aids Secretariat. There was a display of one-year GamFETP impact video.
Speaking on behalf of the graduates was Dr. Mary Grey Johnson, Medical Officer at the Edward Francais Small Teaching Hospital. Mr. Abdoulie M. Sanyang, Chaired the ceremony.