The fight against Zika and other airborne viruses continues to occupy the best minds in the region.
Sveral of those minds gathered at Kingston's Knutsford Court on Wednesday to begin a 2-day deliberation aimed at completing and implementing a coordination strategy for regional medical laboratories and other interests at the Caribbena Public Health Authority (CARPHA) Regional forum.
Dr Karen Polson-Edwards, Acitng Director Surveillance and Disease Control
stated that laboratories play critical role in vector-borne diseases like Zika"
Making mention of the work to Develop a Road Map for Regional Health Security, part of that role is in bio-safety
Taraleen Malcolm - PAHO representative said it was an "opportune time for forum" and that it was vital in light of recent outbreaks globally and in the region"
She congratulated the organizations and entities that contributed to forum.
This writer heard 2 insisghtful presentations, the first addressing Surveillance Needs and Laboratory Response in the Caribbean. Dr Jairo Mendez-Rico of of the Washignton Dc office of PAHO gave a breakdown of the emergence(s) of dengue - several strains - and CHik-V and Zika in the region, stating that spread ha d been rapid, particularly in the case of dengue.
One issue emerging from the presentation was the creation of repositories of samples of dengue and other arborviruses.
The other presentation focussed on the release of preliminary findings on a survey of laboratory capacity in the Caribbean, carried out by Margot Charette of TEPHINET.
Starting with the premise that Increased travel makes transmission more likely across borders and oceans makes outbreaks more likely
The team relied on Epi-info, a rapid assessment tool; allowing for multiple participant questionnaire online, as well as central collection and storage of feedback
it also highlighted the location of labs, and location of labs with specific capacities
High response rate
2015 - 28 labs in 21 countries
less than 50% reference labs
less than half of hospital labs had no in-house arbovirus capacity
2017 - 30 labs from 26 countries
23 from 21 countries responded
Varying capacities for arbovirus diagnosis
Earlier, Kevin Karem - CDC Atlanta (specifically, the Centre for Global Health) gave the background to the strategy, stating that he was "discussing lab capacity opportunities in Caribbean and Latin America"
helping and assisting with outbreak control
In Mar 2015, he noted increased risk of rapid transport arising from Ebola virus
zika came on heels of initital discussion - "We can't do this alone"
Global disease detection sites
several initiatives and Government and quasi-Government agencies
strategy for global coordination of laboratory efforts
every lab will emphasize 8 objectives
corodinate locally and regionally
strengthen labs in various systems
strengthen data management
diagnostic cascade improvement
investmnt in workforce development
mapping lab capacity
laboratory assessment by country