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Global Disease Detection Program: South Africa

Students collect water at a high school in South Africa.

Students collect water at a high school in South Africa. This school and a nearby college were the sites of diarrheal disease outbreaks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) started work in South Africa in 1989, assisting non-governmental and community-based organizations working on HIV/AIDS. The collaboration expanded in 2010 with the establishment of the South African Global Disease Detection (GDD) Center. The Center provides leadership, training, and technical assistance to strengthen the region’s ability to confront new emerging infectious disease challenges in line with country priorities.

To better detect and respond to health threats, the Center partners with governmental and non-governmental agencies. This includes providing technical support, coordinating efforts to strengthen systems, and supporting outbreak responses.

The Center routinely conducts surveillance and research on human and animal diseases. The influenza program has influenced national policy and shaped clinical guidelines in five countries while helping to improve local laboratory systems.The GDD Center in South Africa 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

Making an Impact

From 2013-2016, the GDD Center in South Africa has supported*:

  • Effective response to over 46 outbreaks in 11 countries, including dengue fever, cholera, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and Legionella pneumonia
  • Ongoing disease surveillance for select diseases and syndromes
  • Establishment of two new available in-country laboratory diagnostic tests
  • Graduation of 39 future global health leaders from eight countries as part of the two-year Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP)
  • Training of over 1,749 public health officials from eight countries in short-term public health exercises, including epidemiology and laboratory and rapid response

*Data not available prior to 2013