Advanced Tier- (2-year training)

The South Africa Field Epidemiology Training Program (SAFETP), competency-based training program that was initiated in 2006 and developed as a collaboration between the South African National Department of Health (NDOH), the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to increase South Africa’s field epidemiological capacity. 

SAFETP uses an established applied epidemiology curriculum, providing an accredited Masters in Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of Pretoria (UP) and a Masters in Science (MSc) from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) with mentored practical field experience.

This residency programme is a two-yearfull-time training, from which residents graduate with a Master of Science (MSc) in Field Epidemiology from either the University of Pretoria or the University of the Witwatersrand.

The 2022 cohort will begin in January 2022 and end in December 2023 and applicants are required to apply at both the University of Pretoria and the University of the Witwatersrand.

Master of Science (MSc) in Field Epidemiology from either the University of Pretoria or the University of the Witwatersrand.

The growing field of public health and epidemiology in South Africa and globally brings exciting opportunities for graduates and professionals from health related fields to become competent in applied epidemiology of diseases and conditions relevant to South Africa. It also develops their leadership and management skills relevant to public health system strengthening and management. The training focuses on investigations of public health outbreaks (an acute health event or other epidemiological activity) and using epidemiology and biostatistics to conduct descriptive and analytical studies. 

Work experience requirements

  • Professional experience in a health field or other fields relevant to health
  • Experience of working in the public health system is desirable 

Minimal Educational requirements (all degrees should be in health, laboratory or public health-related field from an accredited university):

  • A medical, veterinary or dentistry degree; OR
  • A doctorate degree in a medical/health-related field; OR
  • A master’s degree in a medical or health-related field; OR
  • An honour’s/bachelor’s degree with prior research experience

Please note that a B Tech degree does not fulfill the minimum educational requirements of the University of Pretoria, the University of the Witwatersrand and the SAFETP.

For the University of Pretoria:
Candidates applying for the MSc Epidemiology and Biostatistics degree must hold an appropriate Honors or Masters degree that includes at least two full courses in epidemiology and two full courses in biostatistics. The University of Pretoria’s BSc Hons Epidemiology and Biostatistics programme is designed to fulfill these requirements.

Key requirements:

Applicants must:

  • Be registered with their respective professional bodies
  • Be fluent in spoken and written English
  • Be computer literate and proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook for use in communication, word processing, analysis, presentation and report generation. Knowledge of a statistical package will be an advantage
  • Have a valid driver’s license and be willing to drive a hired car
  • Provide proof of current physical residential address for future purposes of Domicilium citandi et executandi.

Before completing the online application, please make sure you understand and have the following handy:

  1. Please ensure that you have a valid/working email address
  2. All sections marked with a red asterisk (*) are compulsory and must be completed before proceeding to the next sections
  3. All files and documents to be uploaded should be saved using this naming format: InitialSurname_filename_SAFETP2021, e.g. PDlamini_CV_SAFETP2022
  4. Section 1 requires your personal and contact details. You will be required to upload a certified copy of your identification and name it appropriately (e.g. PDlamini_ID_SAFETP2022) and driver’s license (e.g. PDlamini_Driverslicense_SAFETP2022)
  5. Section 2 requests information about your educational background
  6. Section 3 requests information about your work experience
  7. Section 4 requests information about your language competency
  8. Section 5 requests information on your publications
  9. Section 6 covers your statement of purpose and objectives. You may draft these on MS Word, then copy and paste them onto the online form
  10. Section 7 requires you to upload all additional documents (please save files as prescribed, i.e. InitialSurname_filename_SAFETP2022)
  • Matric/senior certificate
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Academic transcript/s
  • Two (2) completed reference forms Reference Form
  • Proof of online application from the university (University of Pretoria and the University of the Witwatersrand):

If you meet the requirements you can complete an online application:


University of Pretoria


Select to apply to study BSc (Hons) with specialisation in Epidemiology and Biostatistics as your first choice and MSc in Epidemiology and Biostatistics as your second choice. Applicants who already have BSc (Hons) with specialisation in Epidemiology and Biostatistics are encouraged to apply

University of the Witwatersrand


Also visit the following page for the discipline-specific requirements:

discipline-specific requirements

Select to apply to study Field Epidemiology in the MSc Epidemiology Programme of the University of the Witwatersrand. 

  1. To complete your application, all the required supporting documents must be uploaded before the closing date
  2. Please note that no incomplete applications will be considered
  3. You are required to ensure that the information you submit is correct, otherwise, your application will not be considered
  4. Please note that your application will not be saved unless you proceed to the final screen and click on the “Submit” button right at the end of the application. Once you click on “Submit” your data will be saved, and a ‘Edit response’ link will be sent to the email address you would have provided at the beginning. Should you wish to update your application, you can do so by following the said ‘Edit response’ link, any time before the closing date.
  5. Applicants with qualifications obtained outside of South Africa should have their original degrees accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)
  6. Non-South Africans from non-English speaking countries are expected to pass the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) when accepted onto the programme

University of Pretoria – 31 July 2021

University of the Witwatersrand – 31 July 2021

SAFETP – 31 July 2021

It is your responsibility to ensure that your application has been received by SAFETP. Non-certified copies of qualifications will not be considered, neither will those received after the closing dates. Reference checks will be conducted. All applications that meet the above requirements and received before the closing date will be acknowledged.

Correspondence will be made with shortlisted candidates only. If you have not heard from SAFETP within 6 weeks of the final closing date, please consider your application to be unsuccessful.

Please note: While SAFETP works closely with both the University of Pretoria and the University of the Witwatersrand to coordinate candidate selection processes, acceptance into the degree programme offered at either institution does not guarantee acceptance into SAFETP, and does not guarantee that the applicant will register with that institution if accepted into SAFETP.

Bursaries/stipends may be available for select South African applicants fulfilling predefined criteria. South African applicants working currently within the South African government at various levels, who plan to take study leave to participate in the programme and afterwards return to their workplace, must have written approval from their departments for the entire two years. NICD staff that have been funded and granted study leave will be required to continue working for the NICD for at least two (2) years after completing the MSc programme.

South Africans and permanent residents who are funded by their employers must ensure that this funding covers their salaries/stipends, as well as university registration and tuition fees for the two-year training period.

For applicants applying from other African countries – the eligibility requirements still apply, and the international applicant must have the required visa and permissions to study in South Africa.  The applicants must ensure that all the costs related to participation in SAFETP are fully covered for the 2 years of training – salaries/stipends, university registration and tuition fees, accommodation, travel and accommodation to investigate outbreaks – by their respective governments. 

For enquiries, or more information, please contact:

Eudie Hlabioa
Tel: +27 11 386 6542

University of Pretoria
Mrs. René de Waal
Email: or Mr Reuben Semenya at

University of the Witwatersrand
Lerato Podile
Tel: +27 11 717 2605

Intermediate Tier (9-months training)

FETP Intermediate level is a 9-month in-service training that addresses the skills needed by health officials in the health system to improve epidemiologic capacity to evaluate and strengthen public health surveillance systems, investigate and control outbreaks, and conduct field studies to address public health priority issues. The classroom curriculum covers: Surveillance system management and evaluation, outbreak investigation and response, epidemiology study designs, data management and analysis, scientific communication (oral, written), training, mentoring, field work and other relevant topics.

The course is targeted at public health staff, primarily at district, provincial or national level with responsibility for (or play roles in) the following areas:

  • Surveillance data compilation, analysis and interpretation
  • Management, evaluation of surveillance system
  • Outbreak investigation and response
  • Conduct of planned epidemiologic research studies
  • Communication of health information to stakeholders

This is a 9-month in-service training programme. The schedule consists of five classroom workshops and field intervals for on-the-job field projects to reinforce principles taught during workshops. 

  • Completion of FETP-Frontline training
  • At least one year’s experience working with public health surveillance
  • Basic computer and software application skills (e.g., producing documents and spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations)

Successful participants will be selected based on employer’s recommendation. Interested Provincial and District Departments of Health should contact SAFETP for more information.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) accredited certificate with following expected impact of the FETP–Intermediate:

  • Increase in DoH staff with epidemiologic skills
  • Improved oversight of surveillance reporting
  • Improved oversight of other public health programs
  • Improved response to public health threats at district/provincial level
  • More frequent and better field investigations
  • Improved oral and written communication
  • Better use of data for public health decision-making
  • Graduates will count toward World Health Organization (WHO) / Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) goal of 1 epidemiologist per 200,000 population

For enquiries, or more information, please contact:

Project Coordinator
Eudie Hlabioa
Tel: +27 11 386 6542

Field Epidemiologist
Hetani Mdose

Frontline Tier (3-months training)

The Field Epidemiology Training Programme (FETP) Frontline course is an in-service programme focused on detecting and responding to diseases and events of public health importance and that of international concern. Participants learn and practice the fundamental skills used in frontline surveillance, including the use of case definitions, disease detection and reporting. In addition, participants are taught how to summarise data using simple tables and graphs, conduct case investigation, outbreak investigation and response, data analysis and interpreting data for decision-making.


The course is targeted at public health professionals working in the area of surveillance at national, provincial, district and local level, with the aim of strengthening the country’s capacity to rapidly detect, respond to, and contain public health emergencies at their source. Moreover, to prevent the spread of diseases and thereby enhance global health security. The target audience includes medical officers, nurses, infection control officers, surveillance officers, and environmental health officers.

The programme schedule consists of an initial 5-day training workshop, introduction to basic epidemiology principles and the importance of disease surveillance. Participants hereafter return to their regular work sites for a duration of 10 weeks and then return for a second 5-day training workshop to present their work and receive feedback from members of staff and peers, which will enable them to receive course completion certificates.


Week 2-11


Workshop 1 (5 Days)

On-the-job Projects

Workshop 2 (5 Days)

Workshop 1 topics

  • PH surveillance
  • Descriptive epidemiology
  • Outbreak investigation
  • MS Exel

On-the-job projects

  • Site visits/data quality audits
  • Surveillance data analysis,
    brief surveillance summary report
  • Outbreak report

Workshop 2 topics

  • Oral presentation skills
  • Problem analysis
  • Present results
  • Completion ceremony

The course is normally conducted at the request of the Provincial and District Departments of Health. Interested institutions should contact FETP for more information about the entry requirements.

Benefits to the National Department of Health

  • Increased capacity among staff to recognise public health priority problems that are important to the population.
  • Increased completion and accuracy of surveillance data reporting and analysis at district and provincial levels.
  • Increased capacity among staff to provide descriptive analysis of a public health problem.
  • A stronger culture of data-based decision-making process.
  • A network of well-trained and skilled surveillance officers in the country to respond to diseases.

For more information and enquiries contact:

Eudie Hlabioa
Tel: +27 11 386 6542


Project Coordinator 
Eudie Hlabioa
Tel: +27 11 386 6542


Field Epidemiologist
Khuliso Ravhuhali
Tel: +27 11 555 0540