Thailand was the first country outside America Continent to establish the "Field Epidemiology Training Programme", or FETP, in 1980. This programme. initiated with the assistance of WHO and CDC/Atlanta has had an enormous impact on the epidemiological awareness and sophistication of programmes throughout the Ministry of Public Health.
History of FETP-Thailand
To improve the health of the people by preventing and controlling of diseases, Royal Thai Government in collaboration with World Health Organization and US Centers for Disease Control established Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) since 1980. The purpose is to train professional field epidemiologists who is able to apply knowledge and method of epidemiology in planning and solving public health problem Thailand was looking for developing a good course to establish a network of large number of epidemiologists devoted to public health oriented activities. Authorities from Thailand explored various possibilities and eventually they decided that Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) programme with CDC was the best one to be used as base for Thailand. With a keen interest of the Regional Director of SEARO, WHO, it was possible for them to have two consultants in succession
Dr. David Branding-Bennett who is presently DPM, PAHO and
Dr. Bruce Gweniger from CDC, USA.
Dr. Bennett was a consultant in 1979 and was helpful in developing curriculum and recruitment processes for the training. Subsequently Dr. Bruce Gweniger was available for a period of 3 years. Thailand could produce their own Director for FETP who was one of the alumni of FETP by around 1984. CDC continued their interest with this programme and provided various professors who could get attached with the FETP during their sabbaticals. Initially the trainees were picked up from the four regional offices as well as from outbreak control office. There were no special incentives for working in epidemiology and special efforts were needed to develop the required manpower. Some funding available from WHO, in terms of Fellowships, and a WHO certificate were quite useful in sustaining the programme. For the first five years there was no academic recognition. activities ensured string of FETP alumni makes this programme a successful one. The programme emphasizes on "learn to do rather than learn to know.
Around 1985, Medical Council of Thailand recognized the course. Two years spent by the trainees plus one additional year in the University, enables the trainees to get a degree at a doctorate level (MPH). The two-year course was developed with special emphasis on epidemic investigations and preparedness; evidence based training courses; and advocacy. Young participants were exposed to international conferences. Enough number of preceptors were developed, while international level institutes, such as CDC, provided necessary supplementation. All these activities ensured quality training. Dedication and commitment of the officers who developed the FETP activity and a string of FETP alumni makes this programme a successful one. The programme emphasizes on "learn to do rather than learn to know.
In 1987, the FETP was institutionalized with full-time staff, some government budget and office space within the Epidemiology Division, Office of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Health (MOPH). Since 1998, Thailand has offered the International FETP to trainees from neighboring countries. In 2001 the Epidemiology Bureau was accorded status as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Field Epidemiology Training and Research and International component was established, tt's so called International Field Epidemiology Training Program or IFETP-Thailand.