US-Bangladesh cooperation highlighted in epidemiologist field combating pandemic

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DHAKA, March 31, 2021 (BSS) – The first ever Bangladesh congress on
Epidemiology and Public Health supported by United States (US) was
begun today aimed at establishing global network of public health
experts as well as advocating for an increasing number of
epidemiologists and public health experts in Bangladesh.

The US ambassador Earl Miller inaugurated the two-day congress that
includes in-person and online sessions sharing experiences and
scientific lessons from Bangladesh about COVID-19.

The congress is aimed at establishing a global network of public
health experts to apply COVID-19 lessons to preparing for future
pandemics and outbreaks and building support for expanding the number
of epidemiologists and public health experts in Bangladesh.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is
partnering with health and family welfare ministry, the Institute of
Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), and the
Epidemiology Association of Bangladesh to hold this first-ever
national conference focused on the vital roles on epidemiology and
public health that have been played in saving lives and keeping people
healthy from serious diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ambassador Miller said the pandemic has taught the world that policy
and action are only as effective as the science and data they are
built upon.

“We all want answers to challenging public health questions [about
COVID-19] … and we turn to our epidemiologists and public health
scientists to piece together the information and draw conclusions just
like a detective does at a crime scene,” he said

Miller added: “It is not an easy job. But we can no longer deny it
is a vitally important one.”

On the first day, Miller and IEDCR Director Dr. Shirin presented
certificates of completion to 10 of graduates of the CDC-funded Field
Epidemiology Training Program (FETP).

Since the start of the FETP Bangladesh program in 2014, 33
Bangladeshi epidemiologists have completed the rigorous two-year
program.

Over the past year, the trained fellows have served on Bangladesh’s
frontlines in combating COVID-19, usually as the first people on the
ground doing case investigations, contact tracing, and other measures
to both understand and control the spread of the deadly virus.

Speaking of the importance of increasing the number of
epidemiologists and public health experts in Bangladesh to meet the
World Health Organization and CDC recommended levels of a minimum of
one medical epidemiologist for every 200,000 persons, Country Director
of CDC Dr. Michael Friedman noted that for Bangladesh, this equates to
a minimum of 850 fully trained and employed medical epidemiologists.

The two-day Congress is one of many initiatives of the U.S.
government along with over $73 million in assistance over the past
year to support Bangladesh’s coronavirus response efforts, including
strengthening COVID-19 testing capacity of Bangladeshi laboratories,
improving the care given to Corona patients and controlling the spread
of the infection.

It builds on the more than $1 billion in US health assistance to
Bangladesh over the past twenty years and underscores the long-term US
commitment to ensuring access to quality, lifesaving health services
for all people in Bangladesh.