(JollofNews) – 56 field epidemiologists have graduated last Thursday after a three-month intensive course that provided them with the ability to detect diseases before it spreads.

The graduates of the Field Epidemiology Training Program-Frontline (FEPT-F) are part of cohort 3 and 4 US-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiated the programme through the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET).

Addressing the recipients, Cherno Omar Barry, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, outlined the importance of the training programme, which will help to prevent infectious diseases.

He urged the graduates to make best use of their knowledge in their respective medical field.

Mr Barry lauded the fact that military personnel were included in the training programme, comprised of nominated health workers from various medical institutions across the country.

For her part, Patricia Alsup, the United States Ambassador to the Gambia, recalled that the need for basic field epidemiology training became apparent during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in the West Africa.

She indicated that it is such an epidemic situation that prompted former American President Barack Obama to make a resounding call for a Global Health Security Agenda leading the US to pledge US$1 billion in resources to contain future infectious diseases in about 17 countries.

“The Gambia is one of the 17 countries and today’s ceremony marks another step forward implementing a vigorous health security agenda in the Gambia,” she said.

Ambassador Alsup stated that the aim of the Field Epidemiology Training Programme – Frontline (FETP) is to strengthen the detection of and the responses to diseases and events of public health importance on both national and international levels.

“This programme to build a better national epidemiology surveillance system for the Gambia began over a year ago in August 2016 and the first cohort graduated last November,” she added.

Speaking earlier, Mamadi Cham, director of Health said the training boosted information sharing among epidemiologists. He expressed hope that the graduates would upgrade the lives of Gambian people.

In a similar vein, General Masanneh Kinteh , Chief of Defense Staff of the Gambian Army, emphasised the importance of the training that provides six military personnel with the valuable knowledge they need to perform their duties proficiently.

Written by Abdoulie JOHN