WHO-trained young epidemiologists help fight COVID-19 in the Republic of Moldova

Ten young epidemiologists from different departments at the National Public Health Agency (NPHA) in the Republic of Moldova have joined forces to review and analyse data that will allow their country to respond more effectively to COVID-19.

Over the years, WHO has helped the Republic of Moldova to detect and respond to disease outbreaks by supporting an existing network of field epidemiology training programmes. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO and its partners have conducted 132 training sessions in infection prevention and control and public health emergency management for health professionals from the Republic of Moldova.

Nicolae Furtuna, Director of the NPHA, says, “In our effort to respond to COVID-19, we fully rely on the valuable expertise of our staff, built with WHO support.” He also applauds their commitment, saying, “I am very proud of my young colleagues, who have demonstrated maturity and critical thinking and respected clear lines of communication during the outbreak.”

Working together alongside other public health professionals, the team provides accurate epidemiological data insights from the Republic of Moldova for WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

White nights and an extraordinary experience

The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of investing in human resource development, especially in the domains of epidemiology and public health. Doctors and nurses take care of patients in hospitals, while epidemiologists make sure that public health measures are based on available evidence, helping to prevent disease outbreaks by improving health system resource planning and public health emergency management.

Thirty-year-old epidemiologist Alexei Ceban recently graduated from the State University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Nicolae Testemitanu”, the Mediterranean and Black Sea field epidemiology network training programme (MediPIET) in the field of intervention epidemiology, and the School of Public Health Management. He describes how the work has affected him personally.

“The pandemic means a huge challenge for us, with white nights and no access to families. It is also an extraordinary experience in managing public health emergencies. Epidemiological data analysis must be a priority for the decision-makers – you cannot act and make decisions without qualitative information and data.”

He says that the pandemic has highlighted how crucial it is to have health workers, including epidemiologists, ready and available to assist to a high standard. He has shared his experiences at regional and global levels during training sessions with WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN).

Accurate data informs public health decisions

Another young public health specialist and doctoral student, Alina Druc, manages daily updates from 10 laboratories, sending data for verification and analysing the findings. She reports that the pandemic has forced her to demonstrate all the knowledge she has acquired to date, adding, “These 6 months of intensive work have shown us the importance of teamwork, mutual support, communication and moral resilience.”

European epidemiology network professionals and WHO say they appreciate the accuracy of epidemiological data from the Republic of Moldova. As Secretary of State of the Ministry of Health Constantin Rimis emphasizes, “A functional national surveillance system for communicable diseases relies on the availability of data, which is routinely collected by the dedicated team at the National Public Health Agency.”

He adds, “Public health measures are fully guided by accurate data processed using modern technologies, which not only serves to keep decision-makers informed, but also helps to communicate the epidemiological situation clearly to the general public.”


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