PATH is helping countries in Africa and Asia prevent epidemics, detect threats early, and respond quickly when outbreaks arise. Photo: PATH/Doune Porter.
Preventing epidemics in Africa and Asia to secure health around the world
Infectious diseases know no borders. Epidemics like Zika and Ebola remind us how rapidly outbreaks can spread in our highly connected world if they are not quickly contained. During crises like these, the gaps in weak health systems come to light with tragic consequences.
PATH is drawing on decades of experience strengthening health systems and innovating digital health systems to prevent epidemics, detect threats early, and respond quickly and effectively when outbreaks arise. For instance, when Ebola threatened Senegal, we stepped forward to help the country quickly establish a surveillance system for the disease. Thanks to the rapid implementation, Senegal was able to stop Ebola in its tracks.
Through our Global Health Security partnership, we are leveraging PATH’s deep country experience and partnerships to strengthen critical health systems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Senegal, Tanzania, and Vietnam.
From tighter surveillance to quicker diagnosis
Funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the project is part of a larger effort called the Global Health Security Agenda. The agenda was launched in 2011 by the CDC and US government to accelerate progress toward a world safe and secure from public health threats.
PATH is pursuing three strategies to help achieve this goal:
- Stronger and better-linked infectious disease surveillance systems that can rapidly detect and report threats, efficiently monitor trends, and produce the data needed to decide where and how to allocate resources to fight disease outbreaks.
- Laboratories that have the capacity to use rapid, high-quality diagnostics and have strong links with information systems.
- Information systems that integrate immunization data, surveillance reporting, and laboratory diagnostics to promptly highlight areas of concern, ensure information flow throughout the health system, and rapidly trigger responses.
Building country capacity
Because each country has its own particular vulnerabilities and health systems gaps, PATH collaborates with ministries of health, country-based organizations, and CDC country representatives to set priorities.
- In Tanzania, we are partnering with country leaders and local organizations to identify and fill gaps in the Integrated Disease Reporting System, the framework for strengthening national public health surveillance and response systems in the Africa region. We are also evaluating the feasibility of transitioning from paper to electronic reporting for greater efficiency and prompt responses to emerging threats.
- In Senegal, we are building a stronger laboratory system to detect and diagnose diseases. We’re also working with partners on a national plan that sets strategies to prevent antimicrobial resistance and ensures laboratory biohazard compliance.
- In Vietnam, PATH is helping to develop information systems that can monitor and respond to multiple diseases. We are creating a centralized data collection system and data visualization platform that will help leaders make rapid and strategic decisions and reduce the impact of outbreaks. We are also working with partners to equip and strengthen the country’s core emergency operations center.
- In the DRC, PATH will help to establish the first emergency operating center in the country, which will serve to coordinate the prevention, detection, and rapid response teams for public health emergencies.
Connecting to protect our world
While greater global connectivity can lead to the emergence and spread of infectious diseases, it can also create greater opportunities to collaborate. With a sustained investment in strong systems, PATH and our partners are helping to prevent epidemics and protect communities—securing our collective global health.