Ashley Greiner, MD, MPH
, talked about her group's experiences during the cholera outbreak in Tanzania that began last year and what they've learned from it.
The Global RRT's mission includes deploying trained and equipped multidisciplinary teams with appropriate staff to assess current issues, make recommendations and effectively respond with measurable actions, Dr. Greiner began.
Within 72 hours of the Tanzania Ministry of Health's request for assistance, she and her colleagues organized to work with the ministry, the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and other agencies. The CDC provided cholera subject matter experts, lab and epidemiologic expertise and support for an emergency operations center (EOC).
"Cholera outbreaks require a multifaceted control strategy involving surveillance, laboratory, case management, social mobilization, water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as a strong coordination mechanism to oversee this approach," Dr. Greiner told the audience. "Such a strategy requires a collaborative effort with a diversity of expertise."
Her RRT evaluated cholera treatment centers for infection control, distributed pamphlets and posters and tackled misconceptions about cholera transmission, including a bracelet believed to protect the wearer from cholera.
But the staff were deployed without being briefed about region-specific data, key contacts on the ground and possible duplication of efforts. They lacked concrete objectives and necessary tools and resources, including antibiotics and guidelines; and poorly matched skill sets and lack of training led to confusion.
The RRT is learning from those experiences and developing protocols and situation-specific training for Ministry of Health and RRT staff. While the outbreak in Tanzania continues, the RRT is expanding beyond Tanzania to assist with cholera outbreaks in neighboring countries.