On March 1, 2021, the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) within the Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) kicked off in Armenia. The opening ceremony included remarks from Ms. L. Avetisyan, the Deputy Director of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDCP) of the RA Ministry of Health (MOH), Mr. G. Avetisyan, the Head of the RA Government Food Safety Inspection Body (FSIB), and Mr. G. Hovhannisyan, the Head of the Center for Agricultural Services of the Ministry of Economy (MOE).
The FETP 12-week pilot program curricula applied training from the US Center for Disease Control. Through a “One Health” approach, multidiscipline participants cooperated to detect, respond to, and prevent diseases caused by the Especially Dangerous Pathogens. The FETP course was customized to the needs of Armenian stakeholders and accredited by the RA MOH National Institute of Health.
The first cohort of 12 graduates from the MOH, MOE, and FSIB completed three classroom workshops and two practical on-job training sessions. The coursework was delivered by the experts from DTRA’s contractor company, CH2M HILL/Jacobs, and five Armenian mentors from NCDCP and FSIB, past graduates of the South Caucasus Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP) in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Despite the pandemic across Armenia, the participants accomplished the course, analyzing epidemiological data on human and veterinary diseases, such as Brucellosis, Anthrax, Rabies, Lyme and COVID-19 diseases surveillance by applying special analytical tools, and conducted surveys for Anthrax and Brucellosis cases in Armavir region.
The long-term BTRP goal includes institutionalization of FETP as part of a continuous education program for public health and veterinary field specialists.