Capacity Building

A group of 7 individuals sitting around a table and viewing a presentation that is projected on to a wall.

Data cell working on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Alert Data analysis and presentation, April 7, 2021. Photo: Kallay N’Zerekore

The Global Disease Detection (GDD) Operations Center helps to build a country’s capacity to conduct event-based surveillance (EBS) by focusing on two key areas: training and assessments. We also support the World Health Organization (WHO) in the implementation of an EBS signal detection system called Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources in key low- to middle-income countries. In partnership with the CDC Foundation and Resolve to Save Lives, the GDD Operations Center has supported both on-site and remote trainings.

The GDD Operations Center first provided in-country EBS assessments and EBS/EIOS trainings in Nigeria (2019) and Uganda (2020). In March 2020, we pivoted to offering partner countries virtual support to continue to enhance EBS units. Given travel bans and physical distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, the GDD Operations Center adapted the EBS training materials for remote learning and applied innovative techniques to support virtual program delivery. Since then, we have provided virtual EBS assessments and implemented both remote and in-person technical assistance in Rwanda (2020), Sierra Leone (2021) and Liberia (2022).

The GDD Operations Center is committed to strengthening the capacity of WHO Member States to conduct early detection and evidence-based decision-making. We do so through technical assessment of alert and response operations, hands-on training, and linking EBS to existing surveillance frameworks in priority countries. These EBS capacity-building activities help countries align their response efforts with the International Health Regulations (2005) core capacity requirements, and the Joint External Evaluation surveillance assessment criteria.

Women standing behind 3 individuals sitting in front of computers.

GDD Operations Center’s Christie Hercik (standing) at the Uganda event-based surveillance (EBS) and Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources (EIOS) workshop in February 2020. Photo: Blanche Greene-Cramer/WHO

Under the umbrella of the Global Health Security Agenda, the GDD Operations Center is also engaged in developing global, regional, and national EBS technical capabilities. Analysts from the GDD Operations Center have facilitated EBS trainings for staff from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ministries of Health of Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, and Ukraine, among others.

Training the next generation of public health responders is also an important element for the GDD Operations Center. We support the Public Health Emergency Management Fellowship program by leading trainings on key concepts and methodological approaches for conducting event-based surveillance. The GDDOC training package consists of a combination of live lectures and discussion sessions, self-practice exercises and case studies, interactive break-out sessions, as well as frequent “knowledge checks” to ensure that the material is appropriately absorbed. Through these trainings, we aim to leverage existing emergency management personnel and enhance their capacities to collect, document and analyze event-based surveillance data to improve early warning and outbreak response performance.