The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is working to strengthen genomic surveillance of emerging pathogens through different networks, aiming not just to expand the sequencing capacity at national and regional levels, but also to provide timely information and genomic sequencing data that can enrich surveillance systems for different pathogens or to identify early signs of a new pathogen.
In this context, several networks that use genomic characterization as a fundamental tool have been coordinated or co-led by PAHO in the region; for example, the PulseNet Latin America and the Caribbean Network was created in 2003 with the vision of contributing, with new laboratory technologies and information exchange, to the integration of regional data and to contribute to global surveillance. This network focuses on molecular characterization for regional surveillance of foodborne diseases.
On the other hand, in 2014, PAHO together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States, (CDC) and the Arbovirus Diagnosis Laboratory Network of the Americas (RELDA), launched the ViGenDA project (Genomic Surveillance of Dengue Virus in the Americas) with the objective of characterizing the dengue viruses circulating in the Region of the Americas and establish a genomic surveillance of dengue in a systematic and articulated manner with the integrated surveillance systems and the RELDA laboratories. Given the current epidemiological context of arboviruses in the Americas, ViGenDA was expanded as a genomic surveillance platform for endemic and emerging arboviruses, incorporating not just dengue but also chikungunya, Zika, yellow fever, among others.
Due to all the advances and achievements represented by the timely publication of genetic sequence information in open databases, and the impact it has had on the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PAHO, in collaboration with public health laboratories in the Americas, implemented, in 2020, the COVID-19 Genomic Surveillance Regional Network of the Americas (COVIGEN), a network for the sequencing and genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2. This initiative is based on strengthening Latin American and Caribbean countries to generate and release genomic sequence data and strengthen surveillance not only for SARS-CoV-2, but also for influenza and other respiratory viruses.
Given the need to strengthen the characterization of emerging mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), as well as to understand the dissemination patterns of these mechanisms, both in humans and from a "One Health" perspective, in the environment, terrestrial and aquatic animals, agriculture, etc., the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance - ReLAVRA+, established for the monitoring and surveillance of AMR in Latin America and the Caribbean, is developing and implementing specific lines of action to enable countries to access genomic characterization of AMR mechanisms.
In this sense, in 2022 PAHO progressed to consolidate the advances of PAHO Genomic Surveillance Regional Networks (PAHOGen) in the Region of the Americas, seeking increasingly integrated genomic surveillance strategies, to accelerate information exchange and regional data integration, with the proposal of PAHOGen, which will function as an "umbrella" platform encompassing RESVIGEN, VIGenDA, PulseNet, ReLAVRA+ and other genomics networks, to integrate surveillance components, improve management of resources and installed capacity, and jointly strengthen regional emergency response capacity.
The event will take place in Brasília, Brazil, from November 14th to 16th, 2023. The proceedings will be conducted in multiple languages—Spanish, English, French, and Portuguese—with the provision of simultaneous interpretation to facilitate seamless communication among participants. In an effort to extend our reach, we will be providing a live transmission of the event via our official PAHO TV channel on YouTube.
- DATE: November 14 to 16, 2023
- LANGUAGES: English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French with simultaneous translation.
- Link to YouTube: PAHOTV
- Share experiences in genomic surveillance of PAHO genomic surveillance networks (COVIGEN, PulseNet, VIGenDA, ReLAVRA+, others);
- Discuss actions for genomic surveillance with better geographic representation; timeliness and quality of data and information generated, always prioritizing the articulation with epidemiology and clinical practice;
- Discuss the use of data of data to simplify decision-making and public health actions at the local and regional levels;
- Identify the needs for bilateral and multilateral collaboration among members;
- Develop a roadmap for the next 2 years in light of PAHO's "Regional Genomic Surveillance Strategy for Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness and Response”.