Frequent infectious disease outbreaks in Central American region (CAR), such as the Zika virus, Chikungunya, Dengue fever, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, underscore the need to strengthen regional public health capacity and the ability to prevent, detect, respond to, and mitigate the impact of emerging infectious diseases. Effective and robust alliances with country stakeholders, including Ministries of Health (MoH), national public health institutes, laboratories, civil society organizations, academic institutions, and national and international partners have proven to help with this effort.
The CAR serves as a geographic intermediary connecting the North and South American continents, which gives it significant strategic importance for global health security (GHS). GHS depends on early detection and rapid response to emerging infectious disease threats, enabled by strong disease surveillance systems capable of quick scale-up.
With project experience in every Central American country, strong technical expertise in infectious disease epidemiology and GHS, and existing partnerships with key stakeholders in the region, RTI International (RTI) proposes to support MoH in CAR to strengthen local, and ultimately global, health security through disease surveillance and detection programs, early outbreak detection and reporting, enhanced laboratory facilities, and the public health workforce.
For Component 1, the RTI Team will focus on core GHS priorities: strengthening the region's surveillance systems, enhancing laboratory capacity, reinforcing public health emergency management capacity, and strengthening non-outbreak-related public health capacity. RTI will focus on short- and long-term outcomes for strengthening these core GHS priorities. TO achieve these outcomes, RTI will leverage previous experience and existing in-country partnerships and resources to gain situational awareness, promote collaboration with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CAR MoHs, and rapidly initiate project activities while establishing the requisite infrastructure for long-term operational effectiveness, Short- and long-term approaches will be refined in collaboration with key partners, MoHs, and CDC to identify gaps, match resources and avoid duplication, and improve overall system efficiencies.
For Components 2, 3, and 4, RTI will use work in Component 1 to respond rapidly to small-and large-scale infectious diseases outbreaks and other public health emergencies. RTI will work with CDC to support public health institutes/MoH in the affected countries to adapt and scale-up core functions during an outbreak. Strategies and activities will target active surveillance, laboratory capacity, community engagement, case management and infection control, non-outbreak-related public health activities, increased security for health workers, and strengthened preparedness and response. The ever-changing environment of global infectious disease, especially zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19, requires advance preparation and ability to respond quickly. Timeliness of outbreak detection and response is critical reducing morbidity and mortality.