The Task Force for Global Health and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) have signed an agreement to accelerate disease elimination efforts among PAHO’s member states across North, Central and South America and the Caribbean. PAHO is the Americas regional office for the World Health Organization. With The Task Force’s expertise in disease elimination and health system strengthening, this partnership focuses on the implementation of PAHO’s Elimination Initiative which seeks to eliminate several communicable diseases in the Americas by 2030.
In an online ceremony on October 21, PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne, MD, and Task Force CEO and President Dave Ross, ScD, signed the agreement.
“Partnering with The Task Force for Global Health will help tremendously to protect and maintain the gains achieved in our member states in the elimination of communicable diseases as well as step up efforts to accelerate the progress towards the 2030 goals,” said Etienne.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to align, broaden and advance our disease elimination work while doing our part to help all people across the Americas live healthy, productive lives,” added Ross.
This partnership identifies five areas of collaboration for disease elimination: foster partnerships, engagement, and advocacy; increase access to comprehensive and quality health services; strengthen access to medicines, diagnostics, supplies, and health technologies; monitor and evaluate programs; and generate information and evidence.
“Especially in times of global public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening partnerships like ours with PAHO is essential to effectively responding to diseases,” said Rubina Imtiaz, MBBS, Director of The Task Force’s Children Without Worms program, which will now be able to support the elimination of soil-transmitted helminth infections in the Americas.
Likewise, other Task Force representatives heralded the significance of the partnership and its potential for impact. The partnership “really comes down to building strong health systems,” noted Head of Health Systems Strengthening Patrick O’Carroll, MD, MPH. “Things like training quality field epidemiologists and strengthening laboratory capacity make for an effective health system that can respond to disease outbreaks and eliminate diseases once and for all. And that’s where The Task Force’s skills are valuable.”
Currently, two Task Force program directors – Patrick Lammie, PhD, Director of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center, and John Ward, MD, Director of the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination – serve on PAHO’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Disease Elimination (STAG). The STAG serves as a group of technical experts committed to PAHO’s legacy of defeating infectious epidemics and uniting a regional community of practice for successful elimination of current health threats.
The Director of The Task Force’s TEPHINET program, which builds epidemiology capacity in countries around the world, cited partnerships like this one as essential to solving large health challenges. “We alone cannot develop, connect and mobilize a field epidemiology workforce in the Americas, but must rely on trusted, long-term collaborations with key partners like PAHO,” said Carl Reddy, MB. ChB, FCPHM, M.Sc.