Increasingly, the need to strengthen global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats around the globe is being recognized. CDC, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), has committed to building capacity by assisting member states with strengthening their national capacity for integrated disease surveillance and response as required by International Health Regulations (IHR). CDC and other U.S. agencies have reinforced their pledge through creation of global health security (GHS) demonstration projects. One such project was conducted during March-September 2013, when the Uganda Ministry of Health (MoH) and CDC implemented upgrades in three areas: 1) strengthening the public health laboratory system by increasing the capacity of diagnostic and specimen referral networks, 2) enhancing the existing communications and information systems for outbreak response, and 3) developing a public health emergency operations center (EOC) (Figure 1). The GHS demonstration project outcomes included development of an outbreak response module that allowed reporting of suspected cases of illness caused by priority pathogens via short messaging service (SMS; i.e., text messaging) to the Uganda District Health Information System (DHIS-2) and expansion of the biologic specimen transport and laboratory reporting system supported by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Other enhancements included strengthening laboratory management, establishing and equipping the EOC, and evaluating these enhancements during an outbreak exercise. In 6 months, the project demonstrated that targeted enhancements resulted in substantial improvements to the ability of Uganda's public health system to detect and respond to health threats.
Cholera outbreaks have occurred periodically in Uganda since 1971. The country has experienced intervals of sporadic cases and localized outbreaks, occasionally resulting in prolonged widespread epidemics.
Kenya has experienced multiple cholera outbreaks since 1971. Cholera remains an issue of major public health importance and one of the 35 priority diseases under Kenyas updated Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response strategy.
Networks are a catalyst for promoting common goals and objectives of their membership. Public Health networks in Africa are crucial, because of the severe resource limitations that nations face in dealing with priority public health problems. For a long time, networks have existed on the continent and globally, but many of these are disease-specific with a narrow scope. The African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) is a public health network established in 2005 as a non-profit networking alliance of Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programs (FELTPs) and Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETPs) in Africa. AFENET is dedicated to helping ministries of health in Africa build strong, effective and sustainable programs and capacity to improve public health systems by partnering with global public health experts. The Networks goal is to strengthen field epidemiology and public health laboratory capacity to contribute effectively to addressing epidemics and other major public health problems in Africa. AFENET currently networks 12 FELTPs and FETPs in sub-Saharan Africa with operations in 20 countries. AFENET has a unique tripartite working relationship with government technocrats from human health and animal sectors, academicians from partner universities, and development partners, presenting the Network with a distinct vantage point. Through the Network, African nations are making strides in strengthening their health systems. Members are able to: leverage resources to support field epidemiology and public health laboratory training and service delivery notably in the area of outbreak investigation and response as well as disease surveillance; by-pass government bureaucracies that often hinder and frustrate development partners; and consolidate efforts of different partners channelled through the FELTPs by networking graduates through alumni associations and calling on them to offer technical support in various public health capacities as the need arises. AFENET presents a bridging platform between governments and the private sector, allowing for continuity of health interventions at the national and regional level while offering free exit and entry for existing and new partners respectively. AFENET has established itself as a versatile networking model that is highly responsive to members needs. Based on the successes recorded in AFENETs first 5 years, we envision that the Networks membership will continue to expand as new training programs are established. The lessons learned will be useful in initiating new programs and building sustainability frameworks for FETPs and FELTPs in Africa. AFENET will continue to play a role in coordinating, advocacy, and building capacity for epidemic disease preparedness and response.
The Central African Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (CAFELTP) is a 2-year public health leadership capacity building training program. It was established in October 2010 to enhance capacity for applied epidemiology and public health laboratory services in three countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The aim of the program is to develop a trained public health workforce to assure that acute public health events are detected, investigated, and responded to quickly and effectively. The program consists of 25% didactic and 75% practical training (field based activities). Although the program is still in its infancy, the residents have already responded to six outbreak investigations in the region, evaluated 18 public health surveillance systems and public health programs, and completed 18 management projects. Through these various activities, information is shared to understand similarities and differences in the region leading to new and innovative approaches in public health. The program provides opportunities for regional and international networking in field epidemiology and laboratory activities, and is particularly beneficial for countries that may not have the immediate resources to host an individual country program. Several of the trainees from the first cohort already hold leadership positions within the ministries of health and national laboratories, and will return to their assignments better equipped to face the public health challenges in the region. They bring with them knowledge, practical training, and experiences gained through the program to shape the future of the public health landscape in their countries.
We compared the QuickVue Influenza test with PCR for diagnosing pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in 404 persons with influenza-like illness. Overall sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values were 66%, 84%, 84%, and 64%, respectively. Rapid test results should be interpreted cautiously when pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus is suspected.
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