The Task Force consists of eight programs focused on neglected tropical diseases, vaccines, field epidemiology, public health informatics, and health workforce development. The Task Force plays essential convening roles for the programs and helps them advocate to funders and partners. It also provides an agile and responsive platform for programmatic success. A collaborative approach is common to all of our programs.
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are burdens for many developing countries. These diseases cause blindness, disfigurement, cognitive impairment, stunted growth, and even death. We implement comprehensive programs to control and eliminate five NTDs – blinding trachoma, river blindness, lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), intestinal worms, and snail fever. This work is largely supported by pharmaceutical companies that provide financial support and donate billions of dollars annually of antibiotic and anti-parasitic medicines.
Vaccines are a vital tool to protect health – and we work to increase access to vaccines for cholera and influenza in developing countries. We also are playing a major role in polio eradication by helping countries switch to safer and more effective vaccines and address barriers to eradication.
We assist U.S. public health agencies and developing countries in building their public health infrastructure by training healthcare workers in how to detect and respond to disease outbreaks such as Ebola and by improving the use of information to protect and promote health. We also help developing countries build human resource information systems to manage the licensing requirements of their healthcare workforce.
The Task Force is playing an increasing role in supporting the Global Health Security Agenda. This includes providing assistance with influenza pandemic preparedness, building disease surveillance capacity, and responding to emerging infectious diseases such as Zika virus.
While much of our work is focused outside of the United States, we believe global health encompasses all countries – developing and developed alike. In the United States, we assist public health departments with building strong immunization information record systems to ensure communities are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. We also support efforts in the United States to improve disease surveillance through better electronic data exchange.
The Task Force is working with local partners to form the Georgia Global Health Alliance, which will develop a global health economic sector in the state. The Alliance plans to apply lessons learned from global health programs to help address public health issues in the state of Georgia, such as the high HIV prevalence and infant mortality rates.