Partnership between the Pakistan FELTP and the Pakistan Armed Forces to Improve Skills in Applied Epidemiology and Outbreak Response in Pakistan

Submitted by Rana Jawad Asghar, MD, MPH, Pakistan FELTP Resident Advisor

In Pakistan, as with many countries around the world, when a natural disaster occurs, the armed forces are normally called upon to assist. Recent examples in Pakistan include the earthquake in Kashmir in 2005 which killed more than 75,000 persons and the devastating floods in 2010 which caused 20% of Pakistan’s total land area to come under water and affected 20 million people. In such national emergencies, the Pakistan Army’s medical staff are among the first responders. The Pakistan Army’s medical staff provides clinical and public health services to active duty forces, reserves, and retired military members and their family members. In certain geographic areas, the Army also provides all health services to the general population.

The Pakistan Armed Forces Post Graduate Medical Institute (AFPGMI) is the central medical training institute for the armed forces. In early 2014, the Pakistan AFPGMI requested the assistance of the Pakistan Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP) to improve the training of the Army’s medical officers in applied field epidemiology, especially disease surveillance and outbreak response. The Pakistan FELTP arranged a 5-day workshop on Disease Surveillance and Outbreak Response at the Pakistan AFPGMI from March 10 to 14, 2014. Thirty-eight military medical officers from the Army Medical Corps participated in the training. Participants included Brigadier Generals, and other senior medical staff and Army and Air force public health assistants. Training included lectures, case studies, and class exercises facilitated by the Pakistan FELTP Resident Advisor, Dr. Jawad Asghar, and other Pakistan FELTP faculty members, Dr. Tamkeen Ghafoor and Dr. Mirza Amir Baig. On the Pakistan AFPGMI side, Brigadier Haroon Rasheed worked closely with the Pakistan FELTP to make the course a success.

Senior female medical officers in the Pakistan Army doing a class assignment as a group during the diseasesurveillance training workshop in Pakistan, March 2014.

Commandant Major General Viqar Ahmed Khan of the Pakistan AFPGMI stated, “This training course is of tremendous value in improving disease surveillance capacity in Pakistan. We look forward to working with Pakistan FELTP to provide additional training for our medical staff.“

Also earlier this year, the Pakistan FETLP Steering Committee meeting, at the 5th Annual Meeting, agreed to begin enrolling Pakistan Armed Forces medical officers in the Pakistan FELTP.

As these examples demonstrate, the partnership between the Pakistan FELTP and the Pakistan Armed Forces continues to develop as both groups strive to develop well-trained medical staff and field epidemiologists capable of responding to important public health events.

For further information, please contact, Dr. Rana Jawad Asghar at