Global Disease Detection: Guatemela
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has collaborated with public health institutions in Central America since the 1960s to address priority public health burdens of the region, from malaria to influenza. This important alliance has grown from a single focused field station in El Salvador for medical entomology and parasitology into a regional office, located in Guatemala, covering eight countries and supporting diverse public health priorities.
GDD is U.S. CDC’s principal program for identifying and containing emerging infections around the world, and has been designated by WHO as a Collaborating Center for Implementation of International Health Regulations National Surveillance and Response Capacity. A central focus of GDD is the establishment and expansion of GDD Regional Centers in each WHO region.
The Center for Central America is located on the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG) campus in Guatemala City and serves eight countries in the region. Primary partners are the Ministries of Health, national laboratories, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the United States Agency for International Development, UVG’s Center for Health Studies, and other multilateral organizations, nongovernmental institutions, and multiple U.S. government agencies.
Responding to Health Threats
The Center provides leadership, training, and technical assistance to strengthen regional ability to confront new emerging disease challenges, including influenza and other respiratory, diarrheal, and neurological diseases, such as meningitis and encephalitis, and febrile illnesses, including rickettsia and dengue.
“CDC is collaborating with ministries of health in Central America and Panama to strengthen the public health systems, particularly those related to disease detection, prevention, and control.” Dr. Isabella Danel, Director CDC Regional Office for Central America and Panama
Building Disease Detection and Response Capacity
Using the revised International Health Regulations (2005) as an organizing framework, the Center helps develop regional ability to detect and contain outbreaks at their source – building up local resources with combined expertise in:
- Emerging infectious disease detection and response
- Field epidemiology and laboratory training
- Pandemic influenza preparedness and response
- Laboratory systems and biosafety
- Zoonotic disease research and control
- Health communications and information technology
The Center helps regional networks minimize economic and other consequences caused by outbreaks. For instance, cases of foodborne illness in the United States have been associated with commercially available fruits from Central America – with implications for health and trade. In response, the Center strengthens the Central American Network for Foodborne Surveillance through specialized training in epidemiology, surveillance, and laboratory testing aimed at reducing the region’s high incidence of diarrhea, improving food safety, and enhancing trade.
Making a Regional Impact
From 2006-2009, the Center for Central America has supported: