The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that diseases know no borders and has stressed the necessity of effective field epidemiology capacity, that safeguards and promotes the health of its citizens. In honour of field epidemiologists across the globe, the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET) has declared 7 September 2021 #WorldFieldEpidemiologyDay. A first of its kind, this day is aimed at recognising and raising awareness of the invaluable role Field Epidemiologists play.
As health systems face increasingly complex threats, training workers in field epidemiology is even more important.. The NICD, a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, embarked on a joint collaboration more than 15-years ago in establishing the South African Field Epidemiology Training Programme (SAFETP). To date, the program has trained 98 epidemiologists with the majority located in the public service in South Africa.
Field Epidemiologists, or ‘disease detectives’ are considered the cornerstone of public health preparedness and response. They often work long hours to complete arduous tasks that include contact tracing, case investigations, community engagement, data collection and analysis. The NICD and SAFETP will join TEPHINET and other global health partners in celebrating the invaluable role Field Epidemiologists play, and salutes those who have been at the forefront of disease outbreak response, both past and present.