Honoring Field Epidemiology Training Program Noncommunicable Disease Residents in India This World Heart Day


Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the most common noncommunicable disease (NCD). CVDs are also the world’s leading cause of death, with more than 18.5 million reported CVD related deaths globally in 2019. The CDC Foundation, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), celebrates this year’s World Heart Day occurring on September 29 by shining a light on the field epidemiologists working amid huge challenges to reduce the global burden of heart disease and NCDs.

In India, NCDs are estimated to cause about 65 percent of all deaths, and cardiovascular diseases caused 27 percent of all deaths in 2019. One important way to improve the prevention and management of NCDs is to study disease patterns and risk factors.

The Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) NCD track in India trains fellows in NCD epidemiology and program management. CDC supports colleagues and partners in India in developing the program curriculum and provides technical assistance. The CDC Foundation manages funding for program implementation. The India FETP NCD program started in 2018 and currently has 26 fellows . They work closely with mentors and learn primarily through on-the-job field projects where they get the opportunity to integrate their new skills into their work.

FETP NCD fellows work on projects about important NCDs and related risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and salt intake. They study the relationship between high blood pressure and COVID-19 and play an important role in India’s COVID-19 response by supporting screening and testing, contact tracing, training frontline workers, analyzing data, assisting with vaccine rollouts and developing communications. Fellows are also leading innovative projects to decentralize NCD care through the use of local volunteers and mobile apps to ensure that people with NCDs still receive follow-up care even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FETP NCD fellows in India are uniquely qualified to address the dual burdens of NCDs and infectious diseases. The program is working towards sustainability by embedding implementation research and evaluation of NCD screening and treatment programs into India’s health care system.

To learn more about resources to address NCDs during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit Coming Soon: The Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) COVID-19 Toolkit for FETPs | TEPHINET


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Jennifer Keltz is a public health advisor in the Office of Global Noncommunicable Disease at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.