The European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET) was created in 1995. Its purpose is to create a network of highly trained field epidemiologists in the European Union (EU), strengthening public health epidemiology workforce at Member State and EU level. Current EPIET alumni are providing expertise in response activities and strengthening capacity for communicable disease surveillance and control inside and beyond the EU.
Since 2007, EPIET has been integrated within the core activities of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). In 2008, an additional fellowship, with focus on public health microbiology, was started. The European Programme for Public Health Microbiology (EUPHEM) has been established to build capacity in the fiel of public health microbiology inside and beyond the EU. So today, the EPIET fellowships include the historical, epidemiology path and the new EUPHEM path.
In 2009 and 2010, external experts evaluated the EPIET programme (click here to read more). Following this evaluation, the epidemiology path of the EPIET programme has been reorganised and expanded to better respond to the needs of all Member States (MS).
As a result, since 2011, the epidemiology path of EPIET is composed of two tracks, the EU- and the MS-Track. Fellows of the EU-track are recruited in one member state and assigned in another one. Fellows of the MS-track recruited in their member state stry in their country of origin. This newly established MS-Track aims at building capacity in MS who have so far not directly benefitted from the EPIET programme (wether it is in terms of returning EPIET fellows or in terms of having established EPIET training sites within their country). Each year, the director of ECDC decides on a number of seats in the EU- and MS-tracks of EPIET.
Figure 1: New organisation of EPIET paths and tracks
The overall EPIET objectives are as follows:
- To strengthen the surveillance of infectious diseases in EU Member States and at Community level;
- To develop response capacity at national and Community level to address communicable disease threats or outbreaks of unknown origin through rapid and effective field investigation and control;
- To develop a European network of public health epidemiologists using best practise and sharing common objectives;
- To contribute to the development of the Community network for the surveillance and control of communicable diseases.
The EU-Track should focus on strengthening the workforce for field epidemiology in the EU whereas the MS-Track focuses these objectives on the workforce of the MS where the fellow is trained.
The fellowships last two years. Ten percent of this time is used for formal training courses. During the remainder of the time, fellows are placed in a training site in their own country (MS-track) or a European country different from the fellow's country of origin (EU track) .
The fellowship starts with a three-week introductory course in infectious disease epidemiology (link to intro course). This course provides basic knowledge of intervention epidemiology and public health microbiology and aims to inspire strong motivation for field investigation. Following the introductory course, fellows spend 23 months at a training site in an EU member state, Norway, or Switzerland. Training Institutes selected to host an EPIET fellow are those with responsibilities for communicable disease surveillance, epidemiology, and public health advice.
During their attachment, fellows will provide service functions as required, but will also:
- conduct outbreak investigations
- analyse, design, or implement a surveillance system
- Plan, develop and conduct a research project on a relevant public health issue
- gain acquaintance with laboratory techniques
- assist in public health decision
- present and publish the results of their work to the scientific community
- teach epidemiology
In addition to the three-week introductory course, six compulsory and two optional one-week modules offer more specialised training relevant to field epidemiology.
Training supervision is provided in two ways. Day-to-day supervision is the responsibility of the main supervisor at the training site. In addition, fellows may have different project supervisors for the projects they are involved in. Pedagogical support is also provided at a distance by the EPIET training programme coordinators, to ensure that all fellows have equal opportunities to develop their knowledge base and skills.
You can read more about the content of the programme in the Scientific Guide.
The EPIET Programme Office is located at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which is responsible for the administration of the EPIET Programme. It is staffed by the chief coordinator, one scientific coordinator and three logistics officers. The programme is governed by the rules and regulations of the agency. The day-to-day coordination is carried out by the EPIET Programme Office.
The “Competent Body for Training” and the “EPIET Training Site Forum” (link to Training Site Forum) are providing strategic advice and suggestions for future developments of EPIET as well as provide input from training sites in terms of feedback on the curriculum and current programme. Both groups meet on a yearly base.
The EPIET EU and MS-track follow different selection procedures. These are detailed under EU-track selection and MS-track selection.