The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the interconnectedness of worldwide human and animal populations and the threat of emerging diseases and rapid environmental change that require new and integrated approaches. Partnering with a broad consortium of stakeholders—including governments, healthcare workers, and civil society groups—I-TECH works to scale emerging disease threat prevention and response efforts to improve global health security across South America, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa.
Global Health Security
I-TECH’s Global Health Security programs focus on increasing resilience of health systems, reducing the likelihood of disease outbreaks; improving the efficiency and accuracy of the detection of communicable diseases; strengthening surveillance capacity for rapid and effective responses; and enhancing infection prevention and control practices. These measures can prevent the emergence and spread of pathogens and antimicrobial resistant bacteria through sustainable practices, workforce development, surveillance assessments and strengthening, training, policy development, and ensuring data quality.
One Health Approach
The One Health approach addresses the connections between humans, animals, and the environments we share. Human disruptions to natural systems are causing climate change and other major environmental upheavals including biodiversity loss, toxic pollution, heat emergencies, and flooding that will have major impacts on the health of human and animal populations. The climate crisis disproportionately affects countries and communities in the Global South despite having had historically little responsibility for causing the crisis. This will continue to impact countries globally, but especially for those with health systems and public health infrastructure not adequately prepared to support these unprecedented global health challenges caused by the climate crisis.
To reflect the intersectionality and interconnectedness of the health of humans, animals, and the shared (and rapidly changing) environment, I-TECH partners with experts in the Center for One Health Research and other University of Washington partners in designing and implementing programs that use a One Health approach to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging disease threats. Using this approach, I-TECH focuses on strengthening disease surveillance systems and laboratories to detect and assess new viral disease threats, as well as strengthening public health informatics to improve public health action.
Public Health Surveillance
I-TECH works in collaboration with key stakeholders, including communities, government entities, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to strengthen surveillance systems by leveraging evolving information technology, encompassing next generation genomic methods, ensuring meaningful community participation in surveillance, and ensuring surveillance data drive decision-making by professionals, communities and governments.
In 2021, I-TECH received funding from CDC to implement the Integrated Next-Generation Surveillance in Global Health: Translation to Action (INSIGHT to Action) project to strengthen global health security and public health using a One Health approach. Since the start of the project, I-TECH has launched a training program for fellows in Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan; completed a situational analysis of the Peruvian Disease Surveillance System; expanding sentinel and event-based surveillance systems and strengthening the capacity of the public health system for emergency management of chemical biological, radiological, and nuclear threats in Ukraine; and launched a Triple Border Disease Surveillance Strengthening Program in two South American Triple Border areas.