ASM's Global Public Health Programs (GPHP) equip countries to surveil and respond to infectious diseases to minimize morbidity and mortality. We build and strengthen laboratory systems through strategic planning, bolstering operations and creating a sustainable ecosystem.
Our vision is a world where all populations have self-sustaining capacity to utilize evidence-based microbiology resources for healthcare. We focus on improving key areas of public health to establish sustainable, quality-assured diagnostics with a One Health approach and our programs to Build Laboratory Capacity and Workforce Development.
Microbial disease will remain a public health threat with local and global consequences until all countries are empowered to establish reliable laboratory systems. To address this challenge, ASM's Global Public Health Programs (GPHP) design and implement laboratory-strengthening initiatives in resource-limited settings. We train workers in microbial science and support labs to meet international standards.
Learn How ASM's Global Public Health Programs Are Working
With access to over 900 experts who can deploy to either local or remote destinations, depending on our funders' needs, we've developed a robust network of experts to support our work.
These individuals are recognized as leaders in their fields, possessing expertise that encompasses a broad range of disciplines. Our experts also understand the unique cultures of each country with which we partner and are able to execute effective, efficient programming. Working in tandem with local officials, they:
- Design and develop in-person training.
- Lead virtual mentoring and training.
- Facilitate internationally-recognized accreditation.
Building Laboratory Capacity
Our strategies achieve sustainable outcomes because our programs are tailored to the specific needs of each country. These efforts to build lab capacity in each community enable labs to reliably operate microbiology-related programs and are directly dependent upon the lab’s access to basic resources and technology. The result: properly trained and uniquely skilled personnel who can detect and respond to infectious diseases rapidly and effectively. The downstream effect: countries that are equipped to respond to emerging pathogens and prepared to combat ongoing and future pandemics.
In 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic caught the world off-guard. Today, with over 6 million deaths worldwide, COVID-19 remains a significant threat to global public health. In both Ethiopia and Mozambique, GPHP's prior capacity-building efforts enabled both countries to pivot to address COVID-19.
- We supported the Ethiopian National Reference Laboratory (NRL) in strengthening its ability to detect and report outbreaks as part of emergency management. The NRL has gone on to train additional labs, which are now serving as COVID-19 testing centers. Our stepwise quality implementation helped the NRL to achieve and maintain accreditation by the country’s accrediting body.
- In Mozambique, our training and support created a culture of quality that is observed in all routine lab activities and implemented in public health emergencies. Both the National TB Reference Lab and TB Reference Lab in Nampula have achieved ISO15189 accreditation. During the pandemic, Mozambique’s TB molecular equipment was used for COVID-19 testing, and the lab has built an information technology (IT) staff to support the implementation of the COVID-19 Laboratory Information System country-wide.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), also known as the silent pandemic, is another major threat to global public health. It’s not a matter of if AMR will cause devastating morbidity and mortality, but when. AMR represents numerous pathogens that are constantly evolving, and out-smarting, the armamentarium of available therapies to treat patients. In order to track and study drug-resistant pathogens, we must be able to reliably surveil them.
Through a recent cooperative agreement with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, we are actively supporting improved surveillance capacity to detect and monitor antimicrobial resistance of Bordetella pertussis in Brazil and Mexico. Reducing morbidity and mortality in children, the population most affected by this disease in Mexico and Brazil, is the ultimate goal of this project, and we envision utilizing the approach as a model to continue improving diagnosis and surveillance of B. pertussis in the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The beating heart of a laboratory is its people. GPHP's focus on workforce development supports not only skills and competencies acquisition but also strategies to attract and retain quality laboratory staff. We do this through a variety of means:
- Implementing training and mentoring programs customized for the environment.
- Developing or improving standardized operating procedures tailored to the lab.
- Designing measurement and evaluation tools with a focus on improvement over time.
- Collaborating with laboratory management on strategies for growing a culture of quality and continuous learning.
Global Health and Biosecurity
Human behavior is the biggest risk factor for biosafety. In biocontainment laboratories comprehensive biosafety training is especially critical to reduce the potential for human error.
ASM’s 52 Weeks of Biosafety Program delivers practical, in-person sessions and online workshops facilitated by an ASM biosecurity consultant, fostering behavioral and technical competencies that mitigate this risk.
Specimen management is another key aspect of biosecurity and laboratory capacity. In countries in Africa, South Asia and most recently, in the Americas, GPHP partners with funders and laboratories to build skills to properly manage specimens.
How labs prepare and ship samples could impact how quickly results are delivered. This video shows:
- How to properly prepare and label tubes.
- How to prepare boxes and shipping containers.
- How to package and ship entomological specimens.
Global Health Mentoring
Microbiology is continually advancing, and keeping pace with new developments can be challenging. Mentoring provides a bridge between didactic training and independent laboratory practice, enabling laboratory technologists to acquire new knowledge, skills and standards of competence in their own laboratory.
Our Microbiology Mentorship Package translates knowledge into practice, giving microbiologists the tools they need to apply complex decision-making techniques and technical skills in their laboratory practice. We have customized this 5-day workshop for more than a dozen countries.
Accreditation is a goal for laboratories and laboratory professionals around the world. We assist laboratories in their preparation for the Stepwise Laboratory Improvement Process Towards Accreditation (SLIPTA) or similar requirements, using a standardized disease-specific laboratory strengthening checklist.
Our checklist provides a standardized method for taking inventory of personnel and available services and provides a reference to assess and score the performance of a clinical microbiology laboratory seeking accreditation. Our efforts enabled The Lugar Center for Public Health Research, Republic of Georgia, to gain accreditation under International Standard ISO 15189 to assure confidence in data quality, a historic distinction they have since retained twice.
We are a Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) partner, connecting laboratories in remote locations to one other, and to more centralized laboratory hubs.
While the technological connection allows trainers to reach participants in their home laboratories and eliminates the need for travel, the ECHO curriculum incorporates case presentations, lively discussion and collaborative problem-solving and fosters human connection.
The program incubates and strengthens bonds among laboratories, creating a network of mutual learning and support that lasts long beyond the end of the program.
Zoonotic infection are not unique to resource-limited countries, but rapid population growth, changes in climate and land use and humans' close proximity to infected animals significantly facilitate infectious diseases transmission. One Health recognizes the intertwined relationship between the human, animal and environmental health sectors.
GPHP's body of One Health work includes programs in South Asia and in Africa, where GPHP has implemented initiatives to:
- Raise public awareness of zoonotic infections and AMR in the context of One Health.
- Develop, deliver and institutionalize training/educational offerings aligned with prioritized One Health core competencies and technical skills.
- Train laboratories on disease surveillance protocols and equip them to survey disease burden for priority pathogens.
- Collaborate with governmental agencies and animal- and human-health sector national laboratories to strengthen surveillance governance and action plans.
- Support and expand existing AMR and antimicrobial use (AMU) surveillance in animals and humans and the analysis of surveillance data.
- Support early career scientists in addressing priority areas of surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory quality management and advanced diagnostic testing.
Make a Difference — Get Involved
Infectious diseases remain a serious global challenge. As a trusted partner of donors and funders to bolster laboratories around the world, ASM’s GPHP continues its efforts to minimize threats from infectious diseases, making our global community a safer place to live.
Partners and Donors
We appreciate the support of funders who help support our mission to equip countries to minimize morbidity and mortality.
- African Society for Laboratory Medicine.
- Henry Jackson Foundation.
- International Organization for Migration.
- The Fleming Fund.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- University of California, Davis.
- Recce Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Won't you join us? Whether it's your donation, your agency's funding or your expertise as a consultant, your support is crucial to our work.