Nigeria FELTP Cohort 10 residents recently completed Cluster 2. A total of 58 residents participated in this didactic session The practical and hands-on teaching methods emphasize the importance of field experience and facilitate the application of concepts learnt in the classroom. The One Health concept which AFENET promotes is fostered during the clusters of lectures as medics, vets, and laboratorians train together. The interdisciplinary learning and exchange promote the ferment of ideas among residents which contributes immensely in strengthening a network of field epidemiologists.
Broad topics thought by faculties from University of Ibadan and Ahmadu Bello University in the 6 weeks cluster include; Advanced epidemiology, Scientific communication, Research methods, Study designs, Data analysis (Using Microsoft Excel, ODK and Epiinfo), Proposal writing, QGIS, Meta and systematic analysis, Case studies – CASH, Zidovudine, Measles and Injury Surveillance.
A one-week Antimicrobial Resistance Master Class was included in the cluster.
The next step is for the residents to procced to their various universities for the end of cluster examination, after which they will proceed to their field sites.
WHAT THE RESIDENTS ARE SAYING
I think we were told when we were starting the journey, the MPH in Field Epidemiology is a tough course and I have seen it practically that it is tough. Apart from the classes which starts from 8am to 5pm, the exams, the field experience was also a bit challenging. As a vet, I’m used to doing a lot of field work, but being involved in the GID has exposed me to another side of field work. It is so tiring and as it is demanding and I’m enjoying it because I’m up to the task. It is both physically and mentally challenging.
Expectations from Cluster 2
For Cluster 2, its basically to build on the skills that we got from Cluster 1. For example, we have done Epidemiology, Bio-statistics, those are the basic courses or MPH in Field Epidemiology. Now we are going to do Advanced Epidemiology and some other courses on research and design and others. So, I hope that we build on our competency and skills and knowledge that we gain from Cluster 1. And what we have done as some of our deliverables, we build on the skills and competencies in Cluster 2.
I think the major strengths are the competencies I have been able to develop skills and competencies that I can use on a day to day basis. There are some things that I learnt in theory before but now I’m able to practice them. For example, doing a secondary data analysis is something that you do in class, now I have produced a report of my secondary data analysis, a surveillance system evaluation. I have been able to develop a questionnaire and I’m going to produce a report on surveillance system evaluation. So, doing these things practically, I think is the most important part of this course. You don’t just learn it in class, you apply it and it builds your competency. Because you are forced to do it. If you don’t do it, you don’t graduate. You just have to do it!
Impact of the Course in future
For me, I have been a civil servant for the past 25 years and am hoping that opportunities may come in the way, but I will still want to return to my core civil service to impact on the system. I’m already dreaming that if I get the opportunity in the civil service enable some of my staff and some of the residents to organize some aspects of this course for members of the civil service, especially those in the veterinary profession to improve their competency and their ability to impact on the system. So, it does not have to be a Cohort 10 or Cohort 11. We can organize a sub-cohort for civil servants.
Message for NCDC-NFELTP-AFENET
I would want to say a big thank you because we have been opportuned to be here. Many people wanted to come but they did not get the opportunity. For me, I think we should get the best out of this opportunity. The system is spending a lot of money training residents. Besides the core deliverables, residents have to be engaged at their field sites so they can apply everything they have learnt.
So, looking back and I’d like to say where I am coming from before I entered into the FELTP programme, I am coming from a teaching hospital, where I did my residency. So, looking back I compared what I did then and what I’m doing now as a FELTP resident. And one thing I realized is that, it is quite different and it’s really a good one.
In the Teaching hospital, I realized we focused more on the theory aspect of Public health, so much on that with little or no field experience. I wouldn’t say none, but little experience on the practical aspect of the field experience. And that was actually one of the major reasons why I decided to come for FELTP programme because I realized that I wanted to bridge that gap. Because when you go out there they ask you what field experience you have, what practical experience and all that. And I realized that I was lacking in that aspect. So by the time I came, my expectations where met. FELTP programme dwells more on the practical aspect than the theory aspect. It doesn’t make sense if you have the theory aspect of it and you can’t actually practicalize what you have learnt, at a point very soon, very soon you will forget it.
So now that is one area that FELTP has actually bridged and even within the last 6 weeks/6months I realized that I have been able to cover a lot that residency couldn’t cover. For example, by the time I got to my field site we were engaged in all the field activities, even the meetings, the development of proposals, deployment for response. And I also realized that other pillars; case management, infection prevention and control, we realized that even though you are supposed to work in a pillar, but at the end of the day you realise that you are involved in all the other pillars. Looking at the other activities on the field; use of ODK, QGIS(at least QGIS, that was something I couldn’t do before), I didn’t know anything about it, but now I can confidently do that.
Message for NCDC-NFELTP-AFENET
One thing I would like to say is first of all, I wish and I pray and hope that this programme continues. That is one prayer because if it doesn’t continue there are so many benefits we have enjoyed. It would be nice to have other people enjoy them too. Because once you do that it means you are influencing the entire nation. Because when you draw people from different parts of the country the things they were not doing before by the time you get here you learn how to do it better and go back and you correct your system. So it would really be nice, if this can be continued.
I have grown better than I was before I got into this programme. My viewpoint on things have changed, with regards to academics, my job orientation, the kind of people I meet, the meetings I get involved in, NFELTP has changed my perspective. It also, especially changed view and the way I approach control and prevention of diseases. Initially I was just centered in treatment of cases. But now I see its beyond that for us to have better control of diseases, we need public health physicians, especially, the field epidemiologists who identify the causes, before the disease sets in. So I have grown much bigger.
I am looking forward to be more skilled in terms of data management, analysis, interpretation and how to apply it on the filed and globally in the management and control of diseases. I personally have more interest in research especially after attending the AFENET-NFELTP Scientific writing workshop. So, I now feel, I will dedicate more time to research.
Expectations. What does this translate into in the future?
I see myself as a problem-solver, a consultant in any disease, epidemic, outbreak investigations. Any kind of health communicable or non-communicable diseases, anything of public health concern that needs immediate attention or needs to get to the root cause of that thing. I think with this research; we will be able to move the world forward.
Message for NCDC-NFELTP-AFENET
Firstly, I would like to extend my profound gratitude to AFENET who have done so much for us and NCDC. They worked together to give the best and ensure we achieve the best, also in terms of the resource people they employ and the comforts they give us, the accommodation, the classes are conducive and favourable. So, a big thank you to all. To Nigeria, to AFENET, to NCDC and we hope to deliver beyond their expectations.
At this time of writing, I am currently undergoing my field site experience. So far so good. It has given me a broader perspective beyond clinical care which was what I was constrained to before, I came to understand that management of diseases in the public involves a more broader system and it has really opened my eyes to that.
Well I think the major change has been the broadening of perspective and experiential knowledge as a result of active participation on the filed giving you a different experience. In Cluster 1 it was more of theory, epidemiology, control of diseases, finding out its determinants, knowing its distribution. But now I was part of it, part of the team involved in investigation, logistics management for several things and it made me see that what goes on beyond the hospital setting and so much is done at the State Ministry level. Here at the MOH, the agency used to bring about a holistic health to the people of the state.
First of all, I’d like to talk about team management. We had a lecture in Cluster 1 on team building, and then I had the opportunity to practicalize it. Understanding the various stages of team formation and how to work with different people and at the end of the day achieve a set goal. Then in the aspect of field work like Outbreak Response (OBR), we work with people from other agencies, sometimes in the core north, relating with different sets of individuals and try to encourage them to imbibe positive health culture like polio vaccinations and the rest and it really gave me the skill on knowing how immunization is, the logistics behind it, the delivery of it and then being able to evaluate the whole process. So that is a new set of knowledge. It has been a new set of skills that I have obtained in my field experience.
Well I expect to be very good in research because the focus here is more on research methodology, data analysis, data management. So, I’m looking forward to the new set of skills that I’m going to get. I always look forward to be a Google scholar so I hope and I know that by the end of this I will find myself working towards that dream.
Message for NCDC-NFELTP-AFENET
First of all, it’s a big thank you. The whole concept, the whole coming together, to build up a new set of individuals who stand as a first line of defence, in the area of disease outbreaks, both emerging and re-emerging and the old ones. Its really a lovely concept and I’m really grateful, not just the relationships with the people there but and also environment they give us, the opportunities they expose us to and the possibilities of experiencing greater frontiers in future, I’m really grateful for that.