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Global Disease Detection Program: Guatemala and Central America

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The 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 in the region. This important alliance grew from a single, simple field station in El Salvador into a Global Disease Detection (GDD) Center established in 2006 in Guatemala. This Center covers eight countries in the region and supports a variety of diverse public health priorities. Working with a variety of partners, the Central America GGD Center provides support to Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.

The Center provides leadership, training, and technical assistance to strengthen regional ability to confront emerging disease challenges, including influenza and other respiratory, diarrheal, and neurological diseases.

The GDD Center in Guatemala helps contain outbreaks close to the source by building up local resources, drawing on combined expertise in:

  • Emerging infectious disease detection and response
  • Field epidemiology and laboratory training
  • Pandemic influenza preparedness and response
  • Zoonotic disease research and control

The GDD Center helps to minimize economic and other consequences caused by outbreaks. For example, the Center has worked to help strengthen 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. Successful partnerships are key to the GDD Center’s success, and key partners include Ministries of Health, the Council of Health Ministers of Central America and the Dominican Republic (COMISCA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other organizations.

Making an Impact

GDD assisted in conducting a survey at an active volcano, Volcan de Fuego, in the town of San Juan Acatenango.

GDD assisted in conducting a survey at an active volcano, Volcan de Fuego, in the town of San Juan Acatenango.

From 2006-2016, the Center for Central America supported:

  • Effective response to nearly 485 outbreaks in 10 countries
  • Ongoing disease surveillance activities throughout the region for select conditions and diseases
  • Detection of seven novel strains and pathogens new to the region or world
  • Establishment of newly available in-country laboratory diagnostic testing capacity for 38 pathogens
  • Expanded capacity for H1N1 influenza testing throughout Central America leaving long-term capacity in place
  • Graduation of over 130 future global health leaders from eight countries as part of the two-year Field Epidemiology Training Program
  • Training of over 25,691 public health officials from 11 countries in short-term public health exercises, including epidemiology and laboratory; pandemic preparedness; rapid response; and communication
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