Lab Matters Fall 2016 - Page 5

president and executive director’s message APHL President Chris Whelen and Executive Director Scott Becker discuss the association’s international leanings, the Global Health Security Agenda and a new partnership with the Pacific Islands Health Officers Association. Becker: Since we’re talking about PIHOA, let me mention our latest collaboration—a memorandumof-understanding between PIHOA and APHL to achieve several goals, including expanding educational opportunities, promoting quality laboratory practices, improving inter-laboratory communication networks, increasing overall capability for outbreak response, and a few others. I know you are aware of this, Chris, because you signed the MOU at the 2016 PIHOA annual meeting in Honolulu alongside PIHOA President James Gillan, MS, HSA, director of Guam’s Department of Public Health and Social Services. Whelen: It was a highlight of the meeting for me. I am always interested in strengthening public health partnerships. In fact, our laboratory may soon begin a “twinning” relationship with Vietnam’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology. This is one more opportunity to expand laboratorybased surveillance, which is a core goal of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). Becker: I agree. Now that we are in the “home stretch” of election season, I want to mention that US-supported global health work is constantly expanding, which is a wonderful thing. PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, was a defining achievement for the George W. Bush administration and will always be associated with that administration, no matter who is in office. The same can be said of the Obama administration and the GHSA. Fortunately, global health has been a non-partisan issue, and I hope we can continue that tradition. Whelen: When Bonnie Jenkins, the US GHSA ambassador, spoke at the APHL annual meeting, we questioned her on any existing strategies for ensuring post-election continuity in this important international work. Her response was that the US is only one of a global network of more than 40 countries that have agreed to work toward GHSA goals. So, the work is not dependent on any one country or any one leader for its success. In fact, leadership roles rotate on a regular basis. Becker: As I understand it, certain countries will take the lead for individual GHSA “action packages,” and even take the overall lead for a year at a time. However, funding varies greatly by country, and I hope the US government will continue its wholehearted support for this effort. It’s become common knowledge that diseases don’t recognize borders, and it just makes sense to have a public health infrastructure in place to contain outbreaks where they begin. Whelen: And with minimal cases of illness or death. Becker: Precisely. “ “It’s become common knowledge that diseases don’t recognize borders, and it just makes sense to have a public health infrastructure in place to contain outbreaks where they begin.” –Scott Becker, MS, executive director PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org Fall 2016 LAB MATTERS 3