Cameroon health officials are using new and upgraded tools to detect disease outbreaks at the earliest possible moment in order to respond effectively in a sophisticated exercise designed to test Cameroon’s public health emergency management preparedness.
The exercise began September 7th and ended September 15th. All of the tools and mechanisms that Cameroon, with U.S. assistance, has developed the last two years – such as improved laboratories, real time surveillance, point of entry, medical countermeasures, risk communications, a new cadre of “disease detectives,” and an Emergency Operations Center –- were tested in responding to a simulated cholera outbreak originating in a small parish near Douala. Representatives from Cameroon’s Ministry of Health, regional health centers, and laboratories along with experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, as well as other partners participated.
This 11-day exercise allows participants and monitors to assess health officials’ proficiency in tasks ranging from the collection of samples and the use of rapid diagnostic tests to the activation of Cameroon’s Public Health Emergency Operations Center in Yaoundé (a new facility currently under construction). Senior public health officials’ decision making processes were also observed. This exercise, rooted in Cameroon’s participation in the Global Health Security Agenda, or GHSA, is an important milestone that will test, document, and verify Cameroon’s progress in meeting GHSA’s important goals.
GHSA was globally launched in February 2014 to improve the capabilities and reliability of nations worldwide to close gaps that allow disease outbreaks to emerge and spread.Cameroon was one of the earliest and most active members, which today counts more than 60 nations. Through GHSA, CDC Cameroon will receive more than $11 million dollars during the next three years in addition to the current ongoing investments of over $15 million through various activities from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, U.S. Agency for International Development, and CDC.
Cameroon joined the United States and 28 other nations as founding members of GHSA, a broad initiative to make the world safer and more secure from global health threats posed by infectious diseases. The United States is proud to work with Cameroon and other nations to help protect those most vulnerable to deadly disease.