Epidemiology Training pilot addresses knowledge gap


20-12-2018 10:00 am

The Ministry for Primary Industries' Epidemiology Training pilot, which ran from May 2018 through to December 2018 included trainees from Korea and Egypt as well as Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI) staff and veterinarians from private practices.

It was developed as a practical, applied course to fill a technical knowledge gap between the baseline veterinary qualification, and a full epidemiology course.

“New Zealand, like most countries, is struggling to get sufficient numbers into this area of training,” says Trish Ranstead, Manager International Relations at MPI. “And given the importance of our animal export industry and the key role that veterinarians with appropriate knowledge play in responses (in roles such as Intelligence and Planning), it’s critically important that we have enough capacity to deal with an animal disease response.”

Trish explains that a skills shortage became apparent very early on in the Mycoplasma bovis response due to the limited pool of epidemiologists worldwide.

"We need to ensure we have the response capabilities by having adequately trained people available,” she says.

This challenge isn’t just unique to New Zealand, which is why there were international participants included on the pilot from Korea and Egypt. These participants provided excellent feedback and they’re keen to deliver the programme back in their respective home countries.

Courses like this help maintain and further build New Zealand’s reputation internationally in the area of epidemiology and emergency management, and the collaboration between MPI, universities, private epidemiology consultants and private veterinary practices all contribute to our enviable NZ Inc. reputation as an agile and innovative country.

With climate change and increased travel, biosecurity is a global problem. Building global capacity including reversing our own decline in capacity has multiple benefits to New Zealand.

“This bespoke course clearly resonated with participants and is likely to help support  the career pipeline to epidemiology,” says Trish. “It was a real success.”