DAI and Partners to Address Emerging Pandemic Threats such as Ebola

December 11, 2014

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has chosen DAI and three partners—Training Resources Group, The Futures Group, and the African Field Epidemiology Network—to implement a five-year program to help countries prepare for and respond to disease outbreaks.

Focusing on 15 countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, the $44.3 million Preparedness and Response (P&R) project is part of USAID’s Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT-2) initiative to prevent, detect, and respond to viruses such as Ebola, avian influenza, and MERS-CoV that move between animal and human populations. EPT-2 is, in turn, part of the Obama Administration’s Global Health Security Agenda, which brings together U.S. Government agencies and other national governments to increase capacities worldwide to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats.

P&R has a dual mandate: to help countries design and implement National Preparedness and Response Plans and to establish and strengthen National One Health Platforms. One Health programs, starting from the premise that human health is intimately connected to the health of animals and the environment, integrate biophysical, social, and health sciences in their response to emerging diseases. A National One Health Platform is a formal group of senior technical and administrative government representatives from a broad range of sectors who meet on a regular basis to coordinate and collaborate for improved health within each sector.

“Our goal is to address the practical issues confronting national governments as they strive to cope with the human, financial, and logistical constraints associated with pandemic threats,” said DAI’s Jerry Martin, who leads the P&R project.

P&R has already mobilized to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, having facilitated regional workshops in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Cameroon, where representatives from 14 countries went through outbreak scenarios to evaluate their national Ebola preparedness plans. Participants also honed their skills in sessions focused on incident command systems, contact tracing, and risk communications.

The value of preparedness planning is illustrated in the example of assistance provided by the Emerging Pandemic Threats Program to a remote district in the Equateur Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2011, P&R’s predecessor project, RESPOND, led a joint training with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Boende, Equateur Province, on disease surveillance and the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). This year, an Ebola outbreak in the same district of Equateur, contemporaneous with the West African outbreak, was rapidly detected, isolated, and controlled by local and national government agencies, with relatively little loss of life.

DAI brings to P&R a wealth of experience in zoonotic disease control, prevention, and preparedness planning, including leading major USAID initiatives such as RESPOND, Stamping Out Pandemic and Avian Influenza (STOP AI), Community-Based Avian Influenza Control, and Strategies Against Flu Emergence. Complementing DAI’s expertise in managing multistakeholder One Health programs across multiple countries is a highly capable team of partners:

  • Training Resources Group specializes in capacity building, facilitation, and institutional strengthening;
  • The Futures Group is a leader in the field of health policy development, with particular skills in policy advocacy and cost analysis; and
  • African Field Epidemiology Network, a network of public health training institutions in Africa, works with national governments to strengthen field epidemiology on the continent.

For more information on the P&R program, contact Jerry Martin.

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