U.S.-Cameroon Demonstrate Preparedness in Public Health Emergency Management

U.S. Embassy, Yaoundé, September 5, 2017.

Cameroon health officials will use new and upgraded tools to detect disease outbreaks at the earliest possible moment in order to respond effectively in a sophisticated exercise (September 7-15) designed to test Cameroon’s public health emergency management preparedness.  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 – will be 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 (CDC) as well as other partners will participate.

This 11-day exercise will allow 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 (PHEOC) in Yaoundé (a new facility currently under construction).  Senior public health officials’ decision making processes will also be observed.  This exercise, rooted in Cameroon’s participation in the Global Health Security Agenda (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 (March 2015, in Cameroon) 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 has received 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.  Such activities include staff training (through the Public Health Emergency Management Fellowship Program and Field Epidemiology Training Program), construction of a National Public Health Laboratory, support and development of ebola and cholera preparedness plans, providing over 5,000 personal protective equipment kits, supporting the national surveillance systems in public and animal health, and strengthening the health care system in partnership with Cameroonians.

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.  Nations embracing the goals embodied in the agreement pledge to work towards achieving a set of standards and public health improvements that, taken together, establish a global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious diseases and prevent future outbreaks from becoming epidemics.  Under GHSA, host governments (including Cameroon’s) partnered with the United States and established a five-year country roadmap to achieve and sustain each GHSA target.  The agreement forms a roadmap across sectors and assistance providers that enables a better understanding of the specific milestones, next steps, and gaps.

For more information, please contact the United States Embassy in Yaoundé, Press section Tel 22 20 15 00, ext. 4273.
### END ###