Ellison Medical Foundation Funds Public Health Training in Kenya

The Ellison Medical Foundation has awarded a $2.8 million grant to the CDC Foundation to support a unique field epidemiology and laboratory training program in Kenya. The program is designed to increase the number of public health professionals in Kenya who can address emerging infectious diseases that present a regional and global threat to human health.

The field epidemiology and laboratory training program will be coordinated through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has an active research station and a new International Emerging Infections Program in Kenya.

“We expect individuals trained in cross-cutting and leading edge epidemiology and laboratory science to become leaders in their public health institutions and play key roles in helping prevent and control emerging infections that threaten the people of Kenya and beyond,” says Ali S. Khan, M.D., M.P.H., associate director for global health, National Center for Infectious Diseases at CDC.

Emerging infectious diseases include newly identified infections and those that have resurfaced, sometimes in drug-resistant forms. Societal, technological and environmental factors, such as rapid population growth; increasing poverty and urban migration; frequent movement across international borders; and alterations in the habitats of animal and insect hosts, are contributing to the spread of infectious diseases worldwide.

CDC is committed to expanding the cadre of laboratory scientists and epidemiologists in developing countries who are prepared to track and respond to infectious diseases. More than 30 CDC field epidemiology training programs exist globally. However, the Kenya program is the first to integrate field epidemiology with a laboratory component.

The Ellison grant will support two-year training opportunities for 11 epidemiology and 10 laboratory fellows over the four years of the program. To help ensure its sustainability beyond the initial term, the Global Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program will be housed within the Kenya Ministry of Health.

“Because this program involves both epidemiology and laboratory training, it is likely to serve as a model for future CDC public health training programs around the world,” says Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “The Ellison Medical Foundation has demonstrated tremendous foresight in its support of such an important initiative.”

“We are pleased to partner with CDC to begin this new effort to train health professionals from developing countries in field and laboratory approaches to infectious disease prevention and control,” says Stephanie James, Ph.D., deputy director of the Ellison Medical Foundation. “The need for this type of combined training was just emphasized in a recent Institute of Medicine study on microbial threats to world health, so there is no question this is a very timely program.”