Strengthening Indonesia’s Field Epidemiology Training Programme to address International Health Regulations requirements
I Nyoman Kandun, Gina Samaan, Hari Santoso, Haripurnomo Kushadiwijaya, Ratna Juwita, Andi Mohadir & Tjandra Aditama
According to the International Health Regulations (IHR), countries need to strengthen core capacity for disease surveillance and response systems. Many countries are establishing or enhancing their field epidemiology training programmes (FETPs) to meet human resource needs but face challenges in sustainability and training quality. Indonesia is facing these challenges, which include limited resources for field training and limited coordination in a newly decentralized health system.
A national FETP workplan was developed based on an evaluation of the existing programme and projected human resource needs. A Ministry of Health Secretariat linking universities, national and international partners was established to oversee revision and implementation of the FETP.
The FETP is integrated into the curriculum of Indonesian universities and field training is conducted in district and provincial health offices under the coordination of the universities and the FETP Secretariat.
The FETP was included in the Ministry of Health workforce development strategy through governmental decree. Curricula have been enhanced and field placements strengthened to provide trainees with better learning experiences. To improve sustainability of the FETP, links were established with the Indonesian Epidemiologists’ Association, local governments and donors to cultivate future FETP champions and maintain funding. Courses, competitions and discussion forums were established for field supervisors and alumni. These changes have increased the geographic distribution of students, intersectoral and international participation and the quality of student performance.
The main lesson learnt is that linkages with universities, ministries and international agencies such as the World Health Organization are critical for building a sustainable high-quality programme. The most critical factors were development of trusting relationships and clear definitions of the responsibilities of each stakeholder.