Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) – II Program

Under a new 5-year award of up to $50 million, the University of Minnesota and Tufts University will be part of an international partnership of universities to strengthen global workforce development against emerging pandemic threats called One Health Workforce (OHW), the work is part of a new United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Emerging Pandemic Threats 2 program (EPT II) focusing on disease surveillance, training and outbreak response.

The global workforce development program will focus on the One Health Central and Eastern Africa Network (OHCEA) and South East Asia One Health University Network (SEAOHUN).Their networks are supported by a partnership with the University of Minnesota and Tufts University in Massachusetts.

OHCEA & SEAOHUN alongside the University of Minnesota and Tufts University, will in turn partner with in-country government ministries to define the one health workforce and determine the competencies, knowledge, and skills required in practice, and in undergraduate and graduate education. From there, curricula, training modules, field experiences, and other teaching and learning opportunities will be established to ensure that future graduates are prepared to address disease detection, response, prevention and control challenges. These capacity building activities will be anchored in local institutions including universities to support long-term sustainability.

The main Objectives of the current EPT II program of the One Health Workforce Includes:-

Objective 1: Support African and Southeast Asian One Health University Networks to participate with government, academia, and other key partners in defining One Health Workforce needs.

Transforming the current workforce responsible for managing infectious disease threats requires a new way for universities to engage with governments in the two regions. As EPT2 progresses, OHUN universities will be supported to work closely with EP2 partners, particularly P & R, but also FAO, WHO, CDC and PREDICT2, under the guidance of USAID, to support governments to identify workforce needs and establish national workforce enhancement plans.  Ultimately, the goal is to establish government-university partnerships that will create a culture of continuous improvement on both sides, moving beyond a static, one-time capacity assessment to a robust, on-going service to governments while providing real-world training opportunities for faculty and students.  In Year 1, work under this objective has been limited to allow time for EPT2 to be launched in OHUN countries and for a project-wide government engagement strategy to be initiated.  In the meantime, OHW is working closely with USAID, the OHUNs and EPT2 partners to integrate universities into project strategies as key partners in strengthening prevention, detection and response to infectious disease threats worldwide.  In Year 2, in countries where EPT2 government planning is underway, OHW university networks will work with the One Health Platforms and national governments to assess workforce needs and develop country workforce plans.

Objective 2: Support networks to assist government ministries to train the future OH Workforce.

The OHW Project will harness the power of individual universities and university networks to transform the public health system by producing a new kind of public health professional. These new graduates will enter all levels of the public health workforce with core competencies and skills for improved cross-sectoral coordination to prevent, detect, respond to, and control emerging zoonotic diseases. These programs reach from the community health worker, veterinary technician, and wildlife manager all the way up through ministry leaders and policy-makers with advanced graduate degrees. Our team has worked closely with the networks to begin to achieve this new public health workforce. Two strategies were particularly successful in EPT1 that are continuing are: 1) Transforming the classroom by including OH modules and courses taught using innovative, interactive learning methods and 2) making programs for One Health Students in Practice core to curricula that move students from the classroom to the field to work as interdisciplinary teams on practical real-world projects and problems in communities with government and the private sector.  In Year 2 of OHW the networks are proposing country-appropriate activities to implement these strategies in their regions. 

 

Objective 3: Support the networks to assist government ministries to train the current OH Workforce.

To respond quickly and effectively to new outbreaks of zoonotic infectious diseases, women and men working in public health, animal health, environmental health systems and related fields must have adequate training in the skills required to collaborate across existing disciplinary silos. As large public universities, OHCEA and SEAOHUN members and faculties are robust regional resources for strengthening current workforce OH competencies. For in-service personnel, the focus for the OHW Project will be on: 1) Advanced training in the workplace including access to advanced degree training (certificate, master’s, doctorate) through online and field-based training programs; 2) Establishing communities of practice around in-service training needs where experts work together to mentor and train government personnel while also serving as OH champions in member countries; and 3) Continuing education in the workplace through online and in-person workshops and trainings developed through universities in collaboration with the government, private sector and professional organizations. 

Objective 4: Support developed country universities under OHW in strengthening faculty capacities for OH teaching, research, and community outreach for the African and Southeast Asian university networks.

For universities to support the development of a OHW that is technically excellent, globally competent, and locally relevant, they must have the faculty and institutional resources that meet the evolving demands of future employers in an increasingly complex and highly interconnected world. Faculty members are charged with educating the future OH leaders as they progress through their academic careers, conducting research, engaging and translating scientific knowledge to local communities, assisting the government as subject matter experts, and much more. RESPOND provided transformative experiences to targeted faculty members; under OHW we will expand the opportunities to additional faculty members, schools, and institutions. A particular focus will be to support faculty in building skills in 1) innovative teaching/training to support classroom transformation and field-based training, 2) applied research as critical to government decision-making, and 3) grant and scientific writing to advance OHUN sustainability and faculty careers.

Objective 5: Organizational Development: Positioning the One Health Networks as long-term sustainable leaders in One Health.

The approach proposed by our team is grounded in our understanding of the organizational and operational dynamics of university networks developed over our years of working with the R-OHUNs and from the existing and planned organizational assessments of the networks. Key to success is the ability to leverage individual and institutional resources and drivers at all levels of the network including individual (faculty), administrative (university), national (country platforms), and regional (OHCEA, SEAOHUN). Of particular concern to project implementation, the networks lack the financial systems needed to effectively and efficiently implement the OHW Project.  We have assembled the strongest possible team for organizational development of the networks. Key to this team will be the addition of global operations consulting firm, Radius Worldwide http://www.radiusworldwide.com/.  This organization has been working with UMN for the past 3 years as a consultant on global operations concerns for the University.  They will be employed in advising the OHW team on project implementation and network organizational development/start up.  In Year 1, Radius is implementing an organizational review and developing a plan of action for improving OHCEA financial and management systems.  In Year 2, UMN will support OHCEA directly or through further Radius engagement to implement their plan.  In addition, UMN will work with Radius to implement a similar assessment of SEAOHUN organizational systems in Year 2.   

Activities under EPT-II: