Lab Matters Fall 2016 - Page 4

president and executive director’s message Securing Global Public Health Scott Becker: I’ve been with APHL for almost 20 years now, and one of the things that drew me here was that this is a domestic organization with a global viewpoint. In fact, APHL has always been involved with global health, the subject of this issue of Lab Matters. When I started, it was a $25,000 project; today, it’s many projects totaling almost $20 million. But, readers may ask, why is APHL involved in global health anyway? Chris Whelen: I can answer that. To put it simply, strengthening global laboratory networks protects us all from emerging infections and other public health threats. The ability to track what’s happening in other parts of the world helps us prepare for dealing with threats closer to home; it’s much better to tackle those infectious diseases where they emerge and before they have a chance to spread. Becker: Exactly. Plus, from an organizational perspective, global health is an integral part of our mission and vision. And, it’s the right thing to do. It’s also a personal interest of so many of our members who are eager to translate their passion for laboratory practice into something for the global good. Whelen: Coming from Hawaii, I have to point out APHL’s significant work in the US-affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI). As you know, about six years ago APHL gave funding to the Pacific Island Health Officers Association (PIHOA) to subsidize the cost of shipping specimens from the USAPI to the Hawaii State Laboratories Division (SLD) and other labs for reference testing. That was a real boon for the region and cemented the ties between the SLD and USAPI laboratories. Since then, the SLD has tested hundreds of USAPI specimens for influenza, influenza-like illnesses, measles, chikungunya, dengue and, most recently, Zika virus. When the turn-around-time for Zika testing at CDC–Fort Collins was up to six weeks this past spring, it made a big difference to the region to have another reference-level laboratory already in the loop. Becker: As you mentioned earlier, that surveillance data is critically important for the region affected and for the US states. For one thing, that situational awareness is necessary for evaluating potential imported cases and issuing travel advisories. Whelen: That’s right. And the sooner the data is available, the better. “ The ability to track what’s happening in other parts of the world helps us prepare for dealing with threats closer to home; it’s much better to tackle those infectious diseases where they emerge and before they have a chance to spread.” –A. Christian Whelen, PhD, D(ABMM), president 2 LAB MATTERS Fall 2016 PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org