Lo­cal Health Of­fi­cers Grad­u­ate

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Six of­fi­cers from the Min­istry of Health grad­u­ated from the Caribbean Field Epi­demi­ol­ogy Lab­o­ra­tory Train­ing Pro­gramme (CR-FELTP) on Thurs­day 21st April, 2016. This is the sec­ond co­hort of par­tic­i­pants from Saint Lu­cia to suc­cess­fully com­plete this re­gional train­ing pro­gramme. The CR-FELTP was borne out of the recog­ni­tion by Pub­lic Health Of­fi­cials in the re­gion of the need to in­crease the num­ber of trained per­sons who can re­spond to emerg­ing dis­eases such as Chikun­gunya, Per­tus­sis and Zika.

Lo­cal Co­or­di­na­tor for the Caribbean Field Epi­demi­ol­ogy Lab­o­ra­tory Train­ing Pro­gramme, Dr. Michelle Fran­cois, ex­plained that the pro­gramme, which ran for four months, en­tailed real-life, on the job train­ing com­bined with lec­tures on var­i­ous top­ics.

“So the par­tic­i­pants are able to walk in the shoes of their col­leagues. They are able to go out into the field and see what their col­leagues do on a daily ba­sis and get an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of how the in­for­ma­tion is gath­ered and where it comes from. And the beauty of this is that it also fos­ters these sort of re­la­tion­ships be­tween the par­tic­i­pants so that they are able now to pick up the phone and re­spond; pick up the phone and now call a col­league be­cause they now know them on a to­tally dif­fer­ent level and that way we have more team­work. We have per­sons work­ing to­gether which is what is should be, per­sons from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines com­ing to­gether to solve prob­lems.”

Dr. Fran­cois pointed out that par­tic­i­pants have been trained to con­duct out­break in­ves­ti­ga­tions in the field, and gather and present in­for­ma­tion to de­ter­mine the source of an out­break.

“They now are our grounds-men. We can use them on the ground; they are ex­ten­sions of the min­istry now. The aim now is to get these and oth­ers trained in­volved and fol­low­ing up with cases.”

The Caribbean Pub­lic Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Cana­dian Pub­lic Health Agency have both funded and sup­ported CR-FELTP in the re­gion. The pro­gramme has two lev­els with level one con­ducted by lo­cal fa­cil­i­ta­tors. Two par­tic­i­pants from Saint Lu­cia are cur­rently en­rolled in the level two pro­gramme which is run at the level of CARPHA.

Dr. Fran­cois added, “The cer­tifi­cate car­ries 30 cred­its. So for in­di­vid­u­als who re­quire re­newal of their li­censes this is a very im­por­tant cer­tifi­cate for them. They are in the process of get­ting ac­cred­i­ta­tion for this pro­gramme, so the more co­horts that we run, the bet­ter it would be and the ease of get­ting recog­ni­tion for the pro­gramme.”

District Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer Dr. Oliver Austin, one of the par­tic­i­pants of CR-FELTP, had noth­ing but praise for the pro­gramme.

“This pro­gramme is very valu­able in that it gives us the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pand the epi­demi­o­log­i­cal scope of what al­ready ex­ists in Saint Lu­cia. Work­ing di­rectly in com­mu­ni­ties gives me an op­por­tu­nity in an out­break sit­u­a­tion to get on-board very quickly, iden­tify the causative or­gan­ism that is re­spon­si­ble for the out­break or what­ever sit­u­a­tion that ex­ists, and re­ally try to mit­i­gate or pre­vent such an out­break. So it’s very valu­able not just to the com­mu­nity where I work but to the is­land as a whole and to the Caribbean.”

Dr. Austin added that though the pro­gramme was chal­leng­ing, the key to suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing CR-FELTP was to lighten the work­load by work­ing as a team.

Seated:the six of­fi­cers who suc­cess­fully com­pleted the train­ing pro­grame with Min­istry of Health of­fi­cials stand­ing be­hind them.

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