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Director of the US Center for Disease Control Dr. Redfield pays official visit to Georgia

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Monday, May 27
Director of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Robert Redfield together with his delegation visited Georgia (May 23-25) to observe a wide variety of U.S.-Georgia cooperative health projects and to formally launch the South Caucasus Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (SC/FELTP) Alumni Network.

The visit aimed to find out about the results and achievements of the CDC's long-term cooperation with Georgia, in particular, CDC's role as a leading public health organization in strengthening Georgian partnerships within the country as well as on the regional scale.

Currently, the CDCís mission in Georgia is the extension of the timely detection and reaction capacities of institutional levels on the basis of close communication with the Ministry of IDPs from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs and the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health.

Due to the importance of the visit, the American delegation held meetings with cooperative organizations as well as state senior officials: the Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze and the Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs Davit Sergeenko. The meeting focused on partnership of United States and Georgia in the field of healthcare, public health and biomedical and life sciences development. Parties also discussed the possibility of expanding cooperation with the US CDC. They also talked about health safety issues, including the general health care.

Dr. Redfield commented after meeting: ďThe most important reason for me to be here is to learn, from the Minister and the leadership of the National CDC, about the Hepatitis C elimination program. Georgia is leading the world in, what Iíd like to call, 'putting science into action.' We discovered the cure for Hepatitis C, and it needs to be put into action to impact the lives of men, women, and children living with Hepatitis C. Georgia is the first country to do that, and I wanted to come to learn and see how thatís goingĒ Ė said CDC director.

CDC's support is crucial for the initiation and implementation of the Hepatitis C virus elimination program.

Dr. Robert Redfield also visited the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health. When in Richard Lugar's Public Health Research Center Dr. Redfield got acquainted with the projects implemented as a result of joint cooperation and met with Georgian specialists. The Director of the Center Amiran Gamkrelidze made a presentation about the Center and ongoing activities.

On May 24, the Georgian National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) hosted the launch event of South Caucasus FELTP Alumni Network in the lobby of the National Museum of Georgia.

FELTP is a CDC global public health workforce development program and a flagship for CDCís international work. By training local 'disease detectives' from different countries, this program strengthens linkages between laboratories and field response while forging new connections that improve relationships across borders.

South Caucasus FELTP program was launched by CDC in Georgia in 2009 and has produced more than 130 graduates from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine. The program includes classroom and field trainings and prioritizes regional collaboration, information sharing, and response coordination across borders to minimize the spread of disease.

The South Caucasus FELTP Alumni association was established in February 2019. The aim of the association is to mobilize the FELTP alumni in case of disease outbreaks or other events of public health importance and provide support to host country governments. FELTP demonstrates positive regional cooperation between Ministries of Health and Agriculture from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. The launch of Alumni Network highlights the health diplomacy opportunities presented by the SC/FELTP and supports regional public health workforce development.

Bilateral cooperation between the United States and Georgia in terms of the development of health, public health and biomedical, fundamental and applied life sciences has initially started in the 90ís of the last century. In 1996, the CDC Structural and Functional Model was used in the process of creating National Center for Disease Control of Georgia.

The CDC provides technical support on various health-care risk factors in terms of implementing supervision surveys and developing human resources. CDC activities in Georgia include: Hepatitis, Flu, Zoonosis, Respiratory, Diarrheal Diseases, Tuberculosis, Nutritional, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, etc.