Member States consultation with the National Focal Points for Public Health Training, 10–11 May 2016
Member State consultations with the National Focal Points for Public Health Training (NFP-PHT) were organised in accordance with ECDC’s Founding Regulations.
The 2016 consultation saw NFPTs participating from 22 Member States, along with representatives from WHO, the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER), Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET) and the Chairs of the EUPHEM forum and EPIET training site forum.
During the consultation, the proposed priorities for public health training (2017–2019) were presented and discussed, based on the Public Health Training Strategy 2015.
The focus this year was on training needs assessment, conducted through the 2015 survey. The results were interpreted and advice was sought from countries on capacity indicators and the best tools for ECDC to develop to support countries when cascading the assessment, or collecting data in the future.
Three countries (Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands) presented the methodologies and findings of national surveys they had carried out on needs and capacity indicators. Representatives from the WHO Regional Office for Europe and from the International Health Regulations (IHR) team at WHO’s Lyon Office shared updates with the NFPTs.
Participants debated the key themes for ECDC’s focus in working groups and suggested tools that countries would need to carry out their own national training needs assessments. They also discussed how ECDC could better support the countries’ own assessments. The ‘wish list’ included: ECDC developing and facilitating exchange of national training needs assessment experiences; defining what can be offered and providing a portfolio of ECDC training activities, and continuing to assess workforce capacity and training needs. In addition, ECDC should develop simple, practical tools focused on public health operations, including a form for rating training needs, retaining the link to IHR assessment. Finally, ECDC should aim to provide country-specific support.
The aim of ECDC’s Continuous Professional Development Programme (CPDP) is not merely to train individuals but to meet institutional needs in Member States, meaning that it would be up to the NFPT in specific areas to define these needs and identify the most suitable individuals from an institutional perspective. The Senior Exchange Initiative and various other formats for short courses are key elements of such a programme, the objective of which is to strengthen capacity to control health threats under Decision 1082/2013.
ECDC signed a collaboration agreement with ASPHER in March 2016, formalising areas of the partnership, including networking and cascading of training. The NFPTs recommended that ECDC should continue this collaboration and focus on areas such as mapping the ASPHER network capacity to act as training providers in the countries.
The merging of EPIET and EUPHEM into one single fellowship programme was discussed. There was strong support for the general idea, especially given the relevance of multi-disciplinary work, but specific issues were raised (i.e. the importance of protecting current branding linked to the respective networks).
In conclusion, the consultation once again offered an opportunity for the exchange of experience and the provision of extremely valuable advice to ECDC to help interpret and adapt its training strategy to the needs of the Member States.
Read the meeting report: Member State Consultation on ECDC Public Health Training 2016
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