Rapid cultural, economic and technological developments have brought about dramatic changes to Saudi community with regard to causes and proportions of diseases as well as mortality rates. These developments have led to a change in the pattern of diseases from infectious diseases, which were previously prevalent to chronic diseases, malignant tumors, mental disorders, road accidents, in addition to the emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
The Ministry's Agency for Public Health seeks to continuously develop health services in line with global scientific developments. In this regard, attention has been paid to epidemiology as a basic science in the field of public health, which studies the occurrence and determinants of diseases and various health events among individuals and communities. Modern epidemiology is concerned with investigating epidemics, surveillance, surveys and field research to determine the size and type of any health event in order to implement the best appropriate solutions. It also aims to identify the needs of the community and contribute to the development of public health plans and programs.
Hence, the idea of establishing a postgraduate program in Epidemiology started from the need of the Ministry of Health to support preventive health and primary care assistant agencies with its various departments with highly qualified and well-trained Saudi professionals in the field of epidemics detection and control who can lead in the development of preventive programs for communicable and non-communicable diseases. Therefore, Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) was launched by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, USA and King Saud University in Riyadh. The program began receiving trainees in field epidemiology diploma since 1409 (1989). The duration of training in the program is two years, after which the trainee will receive a diploma in field epidemiology from the Faculty of Medicine at King Saud University equivalent to a master's degree.
In addition to the Field Epidemiology Diploma, FETP has been evolving over the years, now includes; a short (four months) Epidemiology in action Diploma in collaboration with Liverpool University, a one-year diploma in Infection Control and Prevention, the Master of Public Health at King Saud University and the Saudi Board of Preventive Medicine. The program is an accredited training center for Preventive Medicine Board from the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties since 2009. Through its academic programs and other short courses, FETP ensures continuous development of public health workers in the various health facilities of the Ministry of Health in all regions; to raise their competence and build their capacity in the field of epidemiology, surveillance, methods of scientific research, statistical analysis and geographical analysis.
In addition, the program provides effective participation in some national studies and health surveys carried out by the Ministry. FETP is a link between the Ministry of Health and some international bodies with international expertise in disease control and control, such as US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), School of Tropical Medicine at Liverpool University and World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr. Abdulaziz Saad Almeshal,
The Supervisor-General of the
Field Epidemiology Training Program