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IDB to help boost disease surveillance network in Central America

The Inter-American Development Bank, in partnership with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and national authorities in Central America, will provide $5 million to strengthen disease surveillance efforts and improve responses to current and future public health emergencies in the isthmus.

The resources are initially earmarked for the Central American region but may be expanded to other countries in Latin America. The IDB is in talks with private foundations and other international organizations to bolster the fund.

“There are few confirmed cases outside of Mexico of the A(H1N1) influenza virus,” said Amanda Glassman, a senior specialist in social development at the IDB. “However, the situation is evolving rapidly and there is a clear need to strengthen public health preparedness throughout the region, particularly in anticipation of flu seasons in the southern hemisphere.”

The IDB will support the creation of a shared database in Central America to provide timely information about disease occurrence and patterns. This will enable public health authorities in the isthmus to take more effective and preventive actions.

The plan is to establish a regional public health laboratory network to confirm cases of infectious diseases that have the potential to cross borders. A regional public health emergency information, communication and response system will further assist authorities in analyzing surveillance data and marshalling information to guide disease prevention and control.

Support will also be provided to purchase anti-viral medications and laboratory materials as needed through the Pan American Health Organization pooled purchasing fund.

In addition, the IDB will explore the use of cellular technologies to support more timely communication between authorities and health providers, and between providers and patients.

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