Central America

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) formally established the Central America Regional (CAR) office, based in Guatemala, in 2005. In addition to Guatemala the regional office also covers Panama, Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua. CAR also manages projects in the Dominican Republic for CDC’s Division of Global Health Protection. Initially focusing on parasitic diseases, CDC has collaborated with public health institutions in Central America since the 1960s. CDC continues to work with the ministries of health (MOH) and the Council of Ministers of Health of Central America (COMISCA) to respond to public health threats addressing HIV, tuberculosis, dengue, and Zika virus as well as strengthening surveillance, laboratory and workforce development.

Central America Region map

CDC CENTRAL AMERICA REGIONAL OFFICE INCLUDES:
Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama

What CDC is Doing in Central America

CDC Impact in Central America
  • CDC has participated in research investigations of diseases that affect many countries, like measles, rabies, and Zika virus. These investigations help the global medical and scientific community better understand these pathogens.
  • Guatemala was the first country to integrate a rapid recency assay into HIV testing services in all PEPFAR countries. Data are used to identify potential infection clusters to better align resources and maximize investment and impact.
  • Baseline HIV drug-resistance surveys were conducted in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras in October 2018. The results helped make the decision to change treatment regimens for patients showing elevated HIV drug resistance levels.
  • As of December 2018, over 1,200 fellows have graduated from the FETP frontline-level program, more than 250 from the intermediate level, and 73 from the advanced level.
  • Four MOH clinics in three countries implemented the rapid antiretroviral treatment initiation strategy (initiation within 7 days from time of HIV diagnosis), resulting in a viral load reduction in 4 weeks.
  • CDC confirmed two pathogens recently discovered in Guatemala. Rickettsia felis is an emerging insect-borne pathogen that causes flea-borne spotted fever. Burkholderia pseudomallei is a bacteria that can cause melioidosis or Whitemore’s disease found in water and soil.
  • CDC has supported laboratory biosafety activities in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
CDC Staff in Central America
  • 4 U.S. Assignees
  • 17 Locally Employed
Central America Country Facts Table
Data facts of countries in region
BELIZE COSTA RICA EL SALVADOR GUATEMALA
Population >380 thousand >4 million >6 million >4 million
Per Capita Income $7,890 $16,100 $7,540 $8,000
Life Expectancy at Birth F 77/M 71 years F 83/M 78 years F 77/M 68 years F 76/M 69 years
Infant Mortality Rate 9/1,000 live births 8/1,000 live births 17/1,000 live births 28/1,000 live births
Top 10 Causes of Death
  1. Cardiovascular diseases
  2. Diabetes & kidney
    diseases
  3. Neoplasm
  4. Maternal & neonatal
  5. Self-harm & violence
  6. Mental disorders
  7. Other non-
    communicable diseases
  8. Unintentional injuries
  9. Musculoskeletal
    disorders
  10. Neurological disorders
  1. Neoplasms
  2. Cardiovascular diseases
  3. Musculoskeletal
    disorders
  4. Mental disorders
  5. Neurological disorders
  6. Diabetes & kidney
    diseases
  7. Other non-
    communicable diseases
  8. Digestive diseases
  9. Self-harm & violence
  10. Maternal & neonatal
  1. Self- harm & violence
  2. Cardiovascular diseases
  3. Diabetes & kidney
    diseases
  4. Neoplasms
  5. Neurological disorders
  6. Mental disorders
  7. Other non-
    communicable diseases
  8. Musculoskeletal
    disorders
  9. Maternal & neonatal
  10. Digestive Diseases
    1. Respiratory infections & TB
    2. Maternal & neonatal
    3. Self-harm & violence
    4. Diabetes & kidney
      diseases
    5. Cardiovascular diseases
    6. Neoplasms
    7. Digestive diseases
    8. Other non-
      communicable diseases
    9. Unintentional injuries

    10    Mental disorders

Health Information for Travelers Health Information for Travelers to Belize Health Information for Travelers to Costa Rica Health Information for Travelers to El Salvador Health Information for Travelers to Guatemala
Data facts of countries in region
HONDURAS NICARAGUA PANAMA
Population 9,265,067 6,217,581 4,098,587
Per Capita Income $4,630 $5,680 $21,890
Life Expectancy at Birth F 77/M 71 years F 78/M 72 years F 81/M 75 years
Infant Mortality Rate 25/1,000 live births 18/1,000 live births 14/1,000 live births
Top 10 Causes of Death
  1. Cardiovascular diseases
  2. Self-harm & violence
  3. Maternal & neonatal
  4. Digestive diseases
  5. Neoplasms
  6. Neurological disorders
  7. Other non-
    communicable diseases
  8. Mental disorders
  9. Musculoskeletal
    disorders
  10. Diabetes & kidney
    diseases
  1. Diabetes & kidney
    diseases
  2. Cardiovascular diseases
  3. Maternal & neonatal
  4. Neoplasms
  5. Mental disorders
  6. Other non-
    communicable diseases
  7. Musculoskeletal
    disorders
  8. Neurological disorders
  9. Digestive diseases
  10. Self-harm & violence
  1. Cardiovascular diseases
  2. Neoplasms
  3. Diabetes & kidney
    diseases
  4. Other non-
    communicable diseases
  5. Mental disorders
  6. Neurological disorders
  7. Maternal & neonatal
  8. Musculoskeletal
    disorders
  9. Self-harm & violence
  10. Respiratory infections & TB
Health Information for Travelers Health Information for Travelers to Honduras Health Information for Travelers to Nicaragua Health Information for Travelers to Panama

Sources:
World Bank 2018, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
Population Reference Bureau 2018, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
GBD Compare 2018, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama

Country Facts

Page last reviewed: March 31, 2021
Content source: Global Health