Uganda is prone to epidemics of deadly infectious diseases and other public health emergencies. Though significant progress has been made in response to emergencies during the past 2 decades, system weaknesses still exist, including lack of a robust workforce with competencies to identify, investigate, and control disease outbreaks at the source. These deficiencies hamper global health security broadly. To address need for a highly competent workforce to combat infectious diseases, the Uganda Ministry of Health established the Public Health Fellowship Program (PHFP), the advanced-level Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), closely modeled after the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) program. The 2-year, full-time, non-degree granting program is the first absolute post-master's FETP in Africa for mid-career public health professionals. Fellows gain competencies in 7 main domains, which are demonstrated by deliverables, while learning through service delivery 80% of the time in the ministry of health. During 2015-2017, PHFP enrolled 3 cohorts of 31 fellows. By January 2018, PHFP had graduated 2 cohorts (2015 and 2016) of 19 fellows. Fellows were placed in 17 priority areas of the ministry of health. They completed 153 projects (including 60 outbreak investigations, 12 refugee assessments, 40 surveillance projects, and 31 applied epidemiologic studies), of which 49 involved potential bioterrorism agents or epidemic-prone diseases. They made 132 conference presentations, prepared 40 manuscripts for peer-reviewed publication (17 published as of December 2017), and produced 3 case studies. Many of these projects have resulted in public health interventions that led to improvements in disease control and surveillance systems. The program has produced 19 issues of ministry of health bulletins. One year after graduation, graduates have been placed in key public health decision-making positions. Within 3 years, PHFP has strengthened global health security through improvement in public health emergency response; identification, investigation and control of outbreaks at their sources; and documentation and dissemination of findings to inform decision making by relevant stakeholders.
Keywords: Field epidemiology training; Global health security; Post-master's degree.