Lab Matters Fall 2023 | Page 27

APHL Flies South for New Opportunities

By Matthew McCarroll , lead specialist , Global Health , Reshma Kakkar , informatics manager , Global Health and Noah Hull , technical manager , Global Health
APHL CEO Scott Becker presents at the CDC CFA conference in Chile
In Spring 2023 , APHL received additional funding from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) for the Global Public Health Data Innovation ( GPHDI ) program , the global version of the Data Modernization Initiative ( DMI ). The requirement was to expand the countries APHL works in for GPHDI from four to eight . Three of these countries are in the Central and South America region — Honduras , Colombia and Paraguay . At the same time , CDC ’ s newly formed Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics ( CFA ) and the CDC South America ( SAM ) regional office initiated a conference in April 2023 to begin work in the South America region , and invited APHL as a key partner .
Data Analytics and Forecasting for Public Health
The conference provided a platform for public health officials in South America and the United States to share their experiences performing data collection , analytics and utilization of these data for forecasting outbreaks and events of public health significance . Speakers included representatives from CDC ( US and in-country offices ), the Pan America Health Organization ( PAHO ), country Ministry of Health officials and academic and non-profit partners . Four APHL staff traveled to Chile to attend this forum and
share innovative laboratory data solutions that have been developed within the US and globally .
Laboratory data play a critical role in global disease forecasting and analysis . Data are needed by multiple decision makers both internal and external to the Ministry of Health , including public health agency staff , epidemiologists and healthcare providers . For laboratories to share data effectively , they need the capability to electronically exchange data with systems and stakeholders . When laboratory data can be quickly transferred from the laboratory to the decision makers then outbreak mitigation efforts have an improved impact on the severity of the outbreak . During his presentation on the role of the public health laboratory , APHL CEO Scott Becker issued a call to action to include the laboratory , inform the public health decision makers , invest in data modernization and to do this using innovative solutions .
Looking Ahead
APHL has begun efforts to strengthen laboratory capacity throughout the South American region . The association recently completed a training on metagenomics in Paraguay . APHL is also working with the Paraguay Division General of Surveillance to develop a solution for capturing laboratory data from public hospitals and reference laboratories into a national laboratory data warehouse to enable electronic laboratory reporting with surveillance systems . This work is being completed using proof-of-concept solutions that have proven successFUL in countries within the Africa region supported by APHL .
In Colombia , APHL performed an evaluation on their bioinformatic and information systems . A digital roadmap is being developed that includes bioinformatic training of trainers , data standardization , centralization and visualization . Additionally , APHL is working with the CDC SAM office to develop a country mentorship program for the region that promotes laboratory accreditation and certification . g
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