NICD has been designated as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Epidemiology and Training in 1996. A 3-month course in field epidemiology was started in 1996. Since then, one course is being organized every year. This is one of the prestigious courses of the South East Asia Region (SEAR) for medical officers working in the field of public health.
The objective of the course is to strengthen the technical capabilities and skills of health personnel by providing practical training in the field of epidemiology, management of health programmes and usage of computer. At the end of training programme, the participants are expected to:
The methodology of conducting FETP includes lectures, technical discussions, modular exercises, visits to institutions, and field exercises. A review of the course was jointly undertaken by NICD, WHO-SEARO, and experts from Thailand, Indonesia, and Bangladesh in 2006-2007. These experts with the help of their colleagues developed a set of ten standard training modules which have since been used for the training.
- Detect epidemic through early warning signals.
- Conduct epidemic investigations/field surveys.
- Institute appropriate & timely response for prevention & control of outbreaks, health impacts of disasters & environmental health issues.
- Collect appropriate laboratory specimens, learn techniques related to storage & transportation of the specimens to the laboratory.
- Provide leadership in control of endemic & epidemic-prone diseases.
- Design, implement & evaluate disease surveillance systems.
- Evaluate disease control/ prevention measures.
- Conduct epidemiological & statistical analysis of complex data sets.
- Use computers effectively for data management, graphics and presentation and use of EPI INFO.
- Build effective communications skills in public health.
- Prepare, present/publish technical reports / articles.
- Remain prepared for any public health emergencies.
- Train other health professionals.
The initial five-week classroom sessions of the training covers concept of field epidemiology, epidemiological tools, bio-statistical applications, principles of outbreak investigations, disease surveillance and management of disease control programs. The faculty of the course include senior officers of NICD, other premier institutions in Delhi, Directorate General of Health Services and the regional and country office of WHO.
This classroom training is followed by 6 weeks field visits that include community-based survey including data collection, compilation, analysis, report writing and preliminary presentation; institutional data analysis, outbreak investigation and study of surveillance system at district level . Field exercises are conducted in collaboration with the regional branches of the NICD. During the field posting the participants are placed in a group of 4-5 at one of the NICD branches under the direct supervision of officer-in-charge of the branch. Faculty members from NICD, Delhi and WHO, periodically visit these branches to provide support and technical supervision to the participants in their field projects.
The remaining time is utilized for finalization of reports and preparation for presentation of the field studies and post-training evaluation of the participants.
In the year 2008-09, the training programme was carried out during 12th August- 11th November 2008 in which 13 participants from India, Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal & Sri Lanka attended the training programme.