Introduction District and provincial-level public health field workers in Zambia collect, compile, and send data from various sources to national counterparts. However, these workers have had limited data training. They need skills to generate relevant, quality data, analyse them, and use them for local decision-making. A steering committee, comprised of the Zambian Ministry of Health, University of Zambia, National AIDS Council, Central Statistics Office, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and others, developed a training program for these workers to obtain these skills and build sustainable epidemiology capacity in Zambia.
Methods We developed curricula to teach standardised data collection, summarisation, interpretation and use. The training was piloted among 12 district and provincial-level staff in December 2010. The pre-post test and course evaluations were linked directly to course objectives and administered during the pilot. Competency on the post-test was set at ≥70%. Tests and evaluations were analysed to guide curriculum improvements.
Results Ten participants took the pre-post test; mean scores were 60.3% (46%–81%) and 76.7% (70%–83%) respectively, with a mean increase of 16.4% (1%–37.5%). On course evaluations, all participants indicated that training content was relevant to their work. Areas of improvement included the need for better guidance on improving data quality and interpreting statistical test results.
Conclusion All participants demonstrated overall competency on knowledge and skills covered in training. Training will be revised and implemented among public health field workers throughout the country. We will continue to actively involve government and local partners to improve potential for sustainability.