The Am. Samoa Department of Public Health (ASDOH) is responsible for the monitoring, surveillance, and control of non-communicable and infectious diseases at district and community levels. Nevertheless, these activities remain a challenge because of the lack of emergency management including local capacity for epidemiology, laboratory testing and risk communication. For example, regarding laboratory capacity, ASDOH lab lacks adequate and sufficient test systems to efficiently facilitate the jurisdiction’s preparedness and response to infectious disease outbreaks which essentially impedes ASDOH laboratory’s primary role of detecting and identifying pathogens of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Additional inadequacies include unsustainable infrastructure and testing space. Confirmatory laboratory tests for various infections such as Dengue, Zika, Leptospirosis, to name a few, are sent to Hawaii State Lab for PCR testing. Funding from ELC to pay for shipping fees will enable ASDOH to maintain these services. Workforce including testing and administrative staff is very limited. An inventory monitoring and supplies procurement officer, for instance, is an immediate need to more efficiently track the sufficiency, use, and consumption rate of test reagents, supplies and consumables. In the area of epidemiology, with ELC funding, ASDOH was able to hire one Epidemiologist, established a Surveillance Office with data clerks and initiated the monitoring and surveillance of infectious diseases, to include syndromic surveillance. With an Epidemiologist on board the demand for epidemiology support became more apparent among Programs within DOH and various government agencies and departments. Furthermore, these programs and agencies had underdeveloped systems for data management and reporting. These challenges, in addition with limited skill set and knowledge of the ELC hired staff, made it difficult to achieve the goals of the newly establish
ed surveillance office. These are some areas of paramount concern as they directly affect and impact our services as disease detectives and our contributive vital role in the monitoring and surveillance of outbreak-prone infectious diseases.