A researcher works on a sample inside a laboratory. Picture: Reuters
A researcher works on a sample inside a laboratory. Picture: Reuters

Health stakeholders urged to increase training of ’disease detectives’

By Goitsemang Tlhabye Time of article published Sep 7, 2021

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Pretoria - South African health stakeholders have been urged not to be caught sleeping and look to increasing the training of the country's “disease detectives” to be better prepared for future disease outbreaks.

The call was made by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in celebration of the first World Field Epidemiology Day celebrated on September 7.

The national public health institute in the country reported that given how the current Covid-19 pandemic had demonstrated that diseases knew no borders, this had once again shown the necessity of effective field epidemiology capacity.

Sinenhlanhla Jimoh, the spokesperson for the NICD, said securing effective capacity of what could be regarded as the country's frontline workers in the health sector was crucial as it would not only safeguard but also promote the health of the country's citizens.

Jimoh said the declaration of the day in honour of field epidemiologists across the globe by the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network was a first of its kind and recognised the need to raise awareness of the invaluable role field epidemiologists played in combating infectious disease outbreaks.

She added that the day also signalled the importance of countries increasing the training of field epidemiologists given that health systems across the globe were facing increasingly complex threats.

To date, Jimoh said they had managed to train 98 epidemiologists through the South African Field Epidemiology Training Programme established 15-years ago, the majority of whom she said were located in the public health system in the country.

"Field epidemiologists, or “disease detectives”, are considered the cornerstone of public health preparedness and response because they often work long hours to complete arduous tasks that include contact tracing, case investigations, community engagement, data collection and analysis. It's for this reason why the NICD is joining other global health partners in celebrating the invaluable role field epidemiologists play."

"We salute those who have been at the forefront of disease outbreak response, both past and present."

Pretoria News

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