Sustainability of a field epidemiology and laboratory training programme: the Ghanaian story
The Pan African Medical Journal
Field Epidemiology Training Programmes (FETPs) are functional ways of strengthening epidemiology, surveillance and outbreak response capacity in countries. However, sustainability of FETPs is a major challenge facing most countries especially in Africa. The Ghana Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (GFELTP) started in 2007 in the University of Ghana School of Public Health as a solution to gaps in the public health workforce. This paper assessed the sustainability strategies
... ity strategies embedded in the Ghana Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme. Methods: we assessed the sustainability of GFELTP by document reviews and interviews with programme staff and stakeholders to identify sustainability structures (programme, financial and institutional) that were in place. We grouped information into the following headings: programme structure, institutional, financial and political structures. Results: as of July 2017, a total of 350 public health experts have been trained in both frontline and advanced courses since the programme's inception. For funding structures, the programme is funded mainly by its partners and stakeholders who are local government organisations. They provide resources for running of programme activities. Under institutional and political structures, the programme was established as a Ministry of Health/Ghana Health Service programme based in the University of Ghana. The programme steering committee which is currently chaired by the Director Public Health of Ghana Health Service, jointly ensures its implementation. Other structures of sustainability observed were involvement of stakeholders and alumni in human resource of the programme; use of stakeholders as faculty for the programme. These stakeholders include staff from University of Ghana School of Public Health, Ghana Health Service and Veterinary Service Department, World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The programme showed evidence of stable sustainability strategies in all four structures evaluated. Conclusion: the assessment found the GFELTP to be sustainable. The main factors that contributed to rendering it sustainable were funding, programme, institutional and political structures embedded in the programme. One remarkable sustainability element observed was the strong collaboration that existed between stakeholders of the programme who worked hand in hand to ensure the programme runs smoothly. However, more sources of funding and other essential resources need to be considered to help the programme obtain a pool of resources for carrying out its activities.