The latest class of Lao public health workers supported by the United States Government graduated from the Field Epidemiology Training Program in Vientiane on April 30.
Associate Professor Dr. Bounkong Syhavong, Minister of Health for the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, commonly known as Laos, presented graduation certificates to the trainees at a ceremony also attended by Michael Kleine, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy, Dr. Shin Young-soo, World Health Organization, or WHO, Regional Director for the Western Pacific, and Dr. Juliet Fleischl, WHO Representative to Laos.
The Field Epidemiology Training, or FET, Program in Laos was initiated in 2009 and has trained more than 70 health workers, who returned to their home provinces and implemented the latest techniques in detection, investigation and response to known and emerging health threats across all 18 provinces of Laos.
The program empowered health officials at all levels to use evidence-based approaches for decision making in response to disease outbreaks in recent years, a process that is further strengthened as each new cohort of FET Program graduates complete the training and return to their field assignments.
“FET graduates are recognized by senior public health officials at national and provincial levels for their technical competencies to support evidence-based decision making,” said Michael Kleine, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Laos.
One important factor in the program’s effectiveness has been the participation of medical experts from a variety of ministries, which shows the interconnected ways that health threats can be detected and investigated regardless of whether evidence of a new threat first appears in a local health clinic, at a border crossing or police station, or in an agricultural market where animals might show the first signs of an emerging threat.
“This is the ninth cohort of FET graduates supported by the U.S. government,” said U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Kleine. “This program clearly demonstrates our commitment to the Lao-U.S Comprehensive Partnership and our support for building stronger ties between our two countries as Laos works to achieve its sustainable development goals.”