Thought Leadership

The Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program

Those that read our blog regularly will remember the early days when we called for a Field Epidemiology Training Programme in Nigeria to train health professionals in Nigeria on the response to outbreaks of infectious diseases in Nigeria. We were delighted to meet a team at the Emerging Infectious Disease Conference in Atlanta last year that introduced themselves as Fellows of the Nigeria Field Epidemiology Laboratory and Training Program (NFELTP).

NFELTP is a service-oriented training program in applied epidemiology, public health laboratory practice, and veterinary epidemiology.

Created in 2008, NFELTP is managed from within the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH). Most of the funding has come from grants from the US Centre for Disease Control. The programme is run in collaboration with the University of Ibadan and the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.  It trains field epidemiology, public health laboratory, and veterinary epidemiology residents for leadership positions both in the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA). During their training, the residents provide service to the ministries through long-term field placements. They learn by doing, investigating outbreaks on infectious disease under the supervision of a senior colleague. 

The NFELTP is based on similar programs that have been established in more than 30 other countries since 1980. The first field epidemiology track is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2-year Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) training program. In Africa, there are maturing programmes in Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa among others. The African programmes cooperate with each other

In addition, NFELTP is the first applied epidemiology program of its kind to offer a veterinary track. This enables veterinary epidemiologists to be trained alongside public health professionals to address the ever-growing threats of zoonotic and epizootic diseases to improve public health. The programme is growing and has doubled its intake this year. There is a lot to be proud of here and the challenge for us in Nigeria is to be able to sustain the funding beyond the grant from CDC, and own it, hopefully as an integral part of a Nigerian Center for Disease Control.

A programme to be proud of in Nigeria!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

By Chikwe Ihekweazu

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

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