SA Regional Global Diseases Detection Program

The Global Disease Detection Program of the CDC is aimed at strengthening the global capacity to rapidly detect, accurately identify and contain infectious disease threats that occur internationally. In July 2010 South Africa was selected as the eighth Global Disease Detection Regional Center.

The South African Regional Global Disease Detection Centre (SARGDDC) is the only Centre in the world with a co-director leadership model and co-directors; Dr Rachel Eidex (United States) and Dr Natalie Mayet (South Africa) were appointed in the latter half of 2011,

The six core capacities of the Global Disease Detection Program include:

  • emerging infectious disease detection and response
  • field epidemiology and laboratory training
  • pandemic influenza preparedness and response
  • strengthening laboratory capacity
  • zoonotic disease investigation and control
  • risk communication and emergency response

The SARGDDC strategy relevant to National priorities for the country is being formulated with the partners at the National Department of Health and the NHLS. There are however, a number of programs already underway that include the implementation of a cooperative agreement with NHLS to the value of $4.1million. This cooperative agreement supports 21 projects providing job opportunities to 55 staff members and includes strengthening Severe Acute Respiratory Disease Surveillance, avian influenza surveillance, GERMS, TB surveillance and various projects for other specific zoonotic pathogens. The agreement also supports the National Department of Health with the Malaria Elimination Program
In February 2012 SARGDDC issued a funding announcement as a sole source research cooperative agreement with NHLS to support public health research of national, regional, and global importance. Funding will be determined in the second half of 2013. Three polio projects have been submitted to the CDC Director’s Discretionary fund for consideration.

In January 2012 the program was honored to host Dr Kevin De Cock, the Director of the Center for Global Health at the CDC.

SARGDDC has been working with the National Department of Health to strengthen capacities around IHR implementation and supported provincial IHR training of 20 Provincial Communicable Disease Coordinators in February 2012.

A South Africa Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program Resident Advisor, Dr Seymour Williams was placed in country in July 2011. The Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training program was reviewed by a national and international reviewer team in January 2012 and the recommendations of the review team are in the process of being tabled with various stakeholders. The Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training cohort continues to support outbreak responses nationally and also recently supported the typhoid outbreak in Zimbabwe.

The existing Influenza program activities are being strengthened by the recent appointment Dr Richard Davis as the Deputy Director Influenza. The program is aimed at building strong regional partnerships for the detection, surveillance, and response to seasonal, pandemic, and zoonotic influenza in South Africa and selected countries of the Southern Africa Development Community.

The National Department of Health intends establishing a National Health Emergency Operations Centre that will enhance emergency preparedness and improve coordination of emergency responses. The SARGDDC provided funding to the Department for the establishment of the National Health Emergency Operations Centre. The establishment of the Operations Centre is supported by technical assistance from Drs Lise Martel and Ed Rouse of CDC Atlanta and a visit in December last year provided an opportunity for them to share their extensive experience in the establishment and operation of a National Health Emergency Operations Centre.

There have been a number of high level visits to South Africa from Ambassador Jenkins, the US Department of Defense, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, all aimed at exploring opportunities for collaboration in strengthening early detection and response to emerging and re-emerging health threats and improving biosecurity and biosafety in South Africa and the region.

Dr Rachel Eidex presented a paper on The Significance of Influenza in Migrant Populations at the Annual NICD Influenza Symposium in March and both co-directors attended the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases held in Atlanta, Georgia from 11-14 March. This conference was followed by the annual International GDD Directors meeting that presented the opportunity of sharing ideas, networking and exploring opportunities for global collaboration.