PUERTO BARRIOS, Guatemala—Sailors from Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit (NEPMU) 2 hosted an outbreak investigation workshop, Feb. 8, as part of Continuing Promise 2017’s (CP-17) valuable training for partner nation community health workers who may be called to participate in investigations of infectious disease outbreaks.
The workshop is one of several public health knowledge exchanges hosted by NEPMU-2 Sailors currently deployed in support of CP-17, a three-month, civil-military operation conducting humanitarian assistance, knowledge exchange and training engagements, and medical, dental and veterinary support in Central and South America.
“The recent Zika virus pandemic in Central and South America highlights the critical roles surveillance and outbreak investigations play in protecting the health of the public,” said Lt. Cmdr. Lucas Johnson, officer in charge of CP-17’s preventive medicine detachment.
The one-day workshop was attended by 36 health professionals from Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, and surrounding rural communities. Course content included a review of common types of infectious disease outbreaks, preparation and execution outbreak investigations, establishing community disease surveillance programs, and principles of health risk communication.
The course culminated in a simulated outbreak investigation where participants translated their enhanced knowledge into best practices for maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of conducting outbreak investigations in limited resource settings.
“This workshop and activities like it are discrete opportunities to fundamentally strengthen the healthcare capacity of partner nations,” said Johnson. “Participants from today’s workshop are not only prepared to independently conduct an outbreak investigation themselves; they’re prepared to teach other community health professionals their new skill set.”