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May 5, 2017

18 Graduates from 2-Level Training Course to Fight Epidemic Outbreaks

The study of epidemiology involves analysing statistical data to identify the causes of outbreaks, or epidemics, of diseases from AIDS to Zika, and using that analysis to isolate potential causes and hopefully eliminate them. Belize has three full-time epidemiologists, but the Ministry of Health is partnering with the regional Council of Ministers of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advance professional training to Belizean health practitioners in field epidemiology. Eighteen participants graduated from two levels of the course at the Radisson Hotel and News Five’s Aaron Humes was there to chronicle their success.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

Whether it is gastroenteritis in Stann Creek; Zika among blood donors; or the reasons nearly eight percent of all live births are pre-term, one thread, according to surveillance officer for the Ministry of Health and coordinator for the Belize Field Epidemiology Training Programme, Nurse Lorna Perez, connects them all.


Lorna Perez

Nurse Lorna Perez, Coordinator, Belize F.E.T.P.

“One of the criteria to graduate is that these students have to look at a particular condition in the country and do an analysis, do a study of that condition and be able to present the findings at the end of the program and that is the final part of this process. It is compiling all the knowledge that they have acquired during the training program and putting it together to do a presentation like this. So we have looked at different conditions in the country and what you’re seeing today is a few of what they have done.”


Nurse Perez herself is one of three full-time Belizean epidemiologists, trained in the field. But as Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero notes, the study of the field is more local, and the eighteen graduates today will prove particularly useful apart from their desk jobs.


Marvin Manzanero

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“This is part of the ongoing professional development, that we have reached out to other partners to enhance and to work along with us, and this is to build in-country capacity to deal with epidemiological outbreaks in the first instance; but eventually it’s training staff on how to deal with data, manage data and with that enhance their management skills and policy development.”



“So ultimately it’s about more than responding; it’s about looking for the clues to prevent the next serious health issue?”


Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“Yes, because that’s how issues may be flagged; its anything that comes out of the pattern. And the cohort of people we have trained come from all different aspects – we have clinicians, we have doctors, nurses, public health people, lab people. Because they might be the ones detecting it; the lab person might be getting a series of things from different parts of the country and he may notice a particular trend and he may be the first to flag the issue.”


The program is supported by the Regional Council of Ministers of Health of SICA and the Dominican Republic, as well as the regional outpost of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez, Coordinator of Training, COMISCA Secretariat

“The Executive Secretariat of the Council of Health Ministers of Central America has a cooperative agreement with C.D.C. Central America regional office. In this cooperative agreement we have different programs and one program is the field epidemiology training. We do technical assistance to the countries of the region and we also fund the activities like this one, for example we have training, basic level and intermediate level in different countries in Central America, including Belize; and we are now doing the inauguration of these two trainings in Belize. And also we support field investigations as the studies that are being presented today.”


Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.


Graduates were also addressed by C.E.O. in the Ministry, Doctor Ramon Figueroa.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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