As evidence mounts that the current Zika epidemic in Latin America may have peaked, the public health effort is now shifting to developing a long-term strategy for identifying and responding to future outbreaks.
The Task Force for Global Health through its network of field epidemiology training programs called TEPHINET recently received $9.5 million in new funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to strengthen the capacity of countries in the region to fight the disease. Projects are focusing on training health workers on how to identify and respond to outbreaks and equipping laboratories with tests to identify the disease. TEPHINET is also supporting the development of regional surveillance strategies to monitor mosquitoes that may be carrying the virus.
“TEPHINET’s work on Zika ultimately contributes to building a long-term strategy and preparedness throughout Latin America,” said Dionisio Herrera Guibert, MD, director of TEPHINET. “The implications of these projects for the region include a better-prepared public health workforce, stronger lab systems for detecting Zika, and enhanced methods of evaluating data collected on the disease.”
TEPHINET has been a key partner in CDC’s emergency response to the Zika epidemic in Latin America. In 2016, TEPHINET supported Colombia in building human resources and laboratory capacity for diagnosing Zika infection. Most recently, TEPHINET convened the first regional Zika symposium in Paraguay where 17 Latin American countries committed to implementing a regional public health strategy for containing the virus.