US disease detection centre launched

Published : 20 August 2013, 06:59 AM
Updated : 20 August 2013, 10:06 AM

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched its eighth global disease detection centre in Bangladesh on Tuesday.

A two-year ‘extensive’ disease detection course also started off at the government’s disease monitoring arm, the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).

With this, the institute would now help as a regional centre “to protect the world by rapidly detecting emerging health threats”.

CDC has such centres only in China, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Kenya, South Africa and Thailand.

Health Minister AFM Ruhal Haque was present with all of his senior administrators while CDC Director for Centre for Global Health Thomas Kenyon was present with his team during the formal launching at the IEDCR auditorium.

US Deputy Chief of Mission to Bangladesh Jon Danilowicz and USAID Mission Director Richard Greene were also present.

IEDCR Director Prof Mahmudur Rahman said they had to upgrade some of their facilities to be a global disease detection site.

As the recognition process was in progress, the CDC signed agreement with the IEDCR in March to operate a Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) to create 'disease detectives'.

The two-year residency training –80 percent field study and 20 percent classroom works– is extensive in nature and available only in 53 countries.

“The training programme would help them to know how to stop any outbreaks,” the Director said, adding that they had plans to post at least one such trained government doctor to every district.

He said a strong disease-monitoring system would help Bangladesh better understand the emerging infections and at the same time would make the world safer with quick response and containment.

“In the current globalisation, if a disease breaks out in one place, it quickly spreads. So we have to identify the source immediately,” he said presenting the importance of the CDC collaboration for the training.

The Resident Adviser of the Course Dr Shua J Chai introduced his first five residents –Mallick Masum Billah, Quazi Ahmed Zaki, Samsad Rabbani Khan, Monalisa and Rabeya Sultana– all of them are government doctors.

He asked them “to work hard, not to be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask again”.

The CDC Director Kenyon described the launching of the disease detective site as ‘a special event’ for the US as well as for the world in quest of public health protection.

The US embassy’s deputy chief of mission spoke about US, Bangladesh relationship and said “it has developed dramatically in the past decades”.

“We value the partnership with CDC,” he said.

The Health Secretary, three additional secretaries, and director general of health services with all of his directors were present during the ceremony.
The Health Minister said it showed “how committed we are and that we really want to take the relationship (with CDC) forward”.
He thanked IEDCR for its effort to be recognised as a global site and asked his administrators to create posts for the epidemiologists who would be trained up under the new course.
Bangladesh witnessed almost all the recent global outbreaks that include avian influenza in 1997, nipah virus infection in 1998, hantavirus in 1993, SARS in 2002, and Prion and HIV in the 1980s.
This calls for international cooperation as World Health Organisation says infectious diseases are spreading around the world faster than before and “at an unprecedented rate of one a year due to increasing international travel, population growth, resistance to drugs, under-resourced healthcare systems, intensive farming practices, and degradation of the environment”.
IEDCR has WHO accredited laboratories to detect emerging infections. As a national centre, it also runs country-wide surveillance to catch new infections.
Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher