The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established an office in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2002. CDC’s primary focus under PEPFAR is to provide support to the DRC’s Ministry of Health (MoH) to expand access to HIV/AIDS services including prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and HIV care and treatment, and to strengthen health systems including laboratory quality improvement, strategic information and capacity building. Other areas of collaboration with the MoH include influenza surveillance, rabies surveillance, monkey pox epidemiologic studies, polio eradication and immunization program strengthening and technical assistance
Through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the CDC Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) office works closely with the Ministry of Health and other in-country partners to improve the national program by building capacities needed to mount and sustain an effective national HIV response. Importantly, these activities support a data-driven, evidence-based approach that is tailored to the unique characteristics of the local epidemic for improved program performance and the most efficient use of resources. Specific program focus areas include: prevention of mother-to-child transmission, pediatric and adult HIV/AIDS care and treatment, tuberculosis/HIV control, national laboratory systems, HIV surveillance, and HIV/AIDS data management systems. A strategic focus of this support is developing evidence-based and family-centered HIV prevention, care and treatment services. CDC also supports cross-cutting activities by helping DRC make policy level changes that are supportive of key technical areas including: measures against gender-based violence; workforce development; and public-private partnerships addressing health systems strengthening.
Global Disease Detection
The coordination of global health security activities results in the strengthening of public health institutions and development of capacities to prevent, detect, protect against, control and respond to public health emergencies of international concern. Working with partners across the U.S. Government, as well as ministries of health and multilateral organizations, CDC is leading the efforts to ensure that joint accomplishments are sustainable and aligned with countries’ public health needs and priorities.
Health Systems Strengthening
Through the DRC Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP), CDC has worked with the Kinshasa School of Public Health to train both human and animal health professionals, including laboratorians, to conduct an evaluation of existing surveillance systems for a variety of public health priority diseases. The FELTP regional training program was launched in Cameroon in 2010 and with support from GATES foundation; it serves three Central African countries (DRC, CAR and Cameroon). FELTP trains health professional and prepares them to respond to the challenges of detection, prevention and control of potentially epidemic diseases including disease surveillance and proper management of epidemic response. Other activities in DRC include training health professionals at the national and district levels to strengthen outbreak surveillance, epidemiological investigation and response capabilities across human and animal health disciplines, and development, evaluation and improvement of methods for rapid detection and diagnostic methods for monkeypox in endemic regions of DRC. In addition, CDC has supported several DRC FELTP alumni for 2-4 month Ebola epidemic response deployments to Guinea.
Under the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), CDC has assigned a resident advisor to DRC as part of an interagency team with USAID to support the MOH in implementing malaria prevention and control interventions. These include providing long-lasting insecticide mosquito nets, preventing malaria in pregnancy, improving diagnostics and case management, surveillance, and monitoring and evaluation of malaria-related activities. Specific examples of CDC technical support have included assistance for the long lasting insecticidal net (LLIN) mass distribution campaign, guidance to the NMCP in formulating/updating their monitoring and evaluation plan for malaria indicators and assisting the NMCP in updating their national treatment guidelines to include the use of injectable artesunate for the treatment of severe malaria cases as well as the use of rectal artesunate for pre-referral treatment in both primary health facilities and as part of the Integrated Community Case Management program.
Neglected Tropical Diseases
In FY 2015 (late 2014, CDC in collaboration with the National Onchocerciasis Control Program and the DRC-Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program implemented an evaluation of diagnostic tests for river blindness in an effort to fully define the characteristics of several other serologic tests in the African contexts. The results of this study and two other similar studies in other countries will inform future research in geographic areas approaching the interruption of transmission. In addition, results will also help both WHO criteria for verification of elimination and efforts to map hypoendemic areas, which in the past were mapped with highly insensitive methods.