Remarks for Ambassador Van Vranken During the Field Epidemiology Training (FETP) Graduation

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

  • It’s great to be here this morning. Thank you. I want to especially thank the distinguished guests:
    • Honorable Dr Edwin Dikoloti (Dee-koh-loh-tee): Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Mmathethe/Molapowabojang constituency
    • Ms. Grace Muzila: Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health
    • Deputy Permanent Secretaries present
    • Directors present
    • Dr Josephine Namboze: WHO representative
    • Colleagues from the PEPFAR Botswana team
    • Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) coordinating team
    • Distinguished Cohort 3 FETP graduates
    • And all other dignitaries present, distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
  • It’s an honor for me to join you all on this important occasion today as we witness the graduation of the third cohort of Frontline Field Epidemiology Training program (FETP) following the restart of FETP in the Republic of Botswana not long ago. I am informed that the previous two cohorts saw a total of 39 competent field epidemiologists graduate through these efforts and we are excited to be part of this great achievement.
  • The US Government has had long standing collaborations with the Government of the Republic of Botswana in the areas of health system strengthening. For many years through the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), we have supported Ministry of Health’s efforts to prevent and control the HIV/AIDS and TB epidemics, built laboratory capacity as well as contributed to global health security initiatives in the country. The recent celebrations of launching the BAIS V report which we collaborated with the Government of Botswana is a living testimony of such collaborations, especially after our joint efforts in curbing the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The journey we are celebrating today has been one of collaboration, commitment, and the pursuit of excellence in public health.
  • As we gather here today, we are reminded of the critical importance of a strong and resilient public health system. The challenges posed by global health crises, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, underscore the need for a well-trained workforce equipped to respond to emerging threats. It is heartening to witness the progress that Botswana has made in this direction, through the unwavering support from the United States government through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its implementing partners.
  • The establishment of the Frontline-FETP program in Botswana is a testament to the commitment of all stakeholders involved in enhancing the nation’s public health response capacities. With technical and financial assistance from the US CDC and its implementing partner, Botswana has made remarkable strides in building a competent workforce of public health officers. The program’s launch on July 6, 2022, marked a significant step forward in this endeavor.
  • The journey of the FETP program that started last July has been marked by dedication, hard work, and collaboration. The previous two cohorts have graduated 39 public health officers from 18 District Health Management Teams (DHMT) and MOH Headquarters. The achievements of these graduates are truly commendable and are evident in the ongoing responses to the mumps and measles outbreaks just to mention a few.
  • Today we celebrate the accomplishments of the third cohort, which started their training on June 4, 2023. These 19 dedicated public health officers have undergone rigorous training with the support of national mentors from the Ministry of Health, DHMT, AFENET, and CDC Botswana. Their commitment and resilience will undoubtedly contribute to the strengthening of Botswana’s public health system.
  • The support of the US government, through agencies like the CDC, has been instrumental in the success of these endeavors. I am pleased to share that this support will continue, reflecting our commitment to improving public health in Botswana and beyond. The U.S. government is proud to continue its support to the FETP program and the broader public health efforts in Botswana in alignment with the new PEPFAR 5 X 3 Strategy that aims to continue strengthening countries’ public health systems for effective and sustainable delivery of HIV services, while building capacity for pandemic preparedness and response to outbreaks. We recognize the importance of a strong and capable public health workforce, especially in times of global health challenges
    like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Our commitment to this partnership is a reflection of our shared values and the belief that collaboration is key to achieving sustainable health outcomes. As we navigate the complexities of today’s global health landscape, we understand the value of investing in capable and skilled public health professionals.
  • As we celebrate the achievements of the graduates today, let us also recognize the significance of their roles. The work they do is vital to the health and well-being of communities, and their efforts contribute to a safer and healthier future for all. We are confident that their skills and dedication will make a lasting impact on the lives of many.
  • In closing, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the graduates of the third cohort of the Frontline-FETP. Your dedication and commitment are truly inspiring, and I am confident that you will go on to make meaningful contributions to public health in Botswana. I also want to express our gratitude to the mentors, trainers, and all those who have supported this program. Together, we can continue to build a brighter and healthier future
    for Botswana.
  • Thank you, and congratulations once again. Pula!