U.S. COVID-19 webinars help medics in Central and South America

Graphic with 'U.S. supports Central and South America in fighting COVID-19' (Photo: © Shutterstock/Graphic: State Dept./H. Efrem)
(Photo: © Shutterstock/Graphic: State Dept./H. Efrem)

U.S. infectious disease experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are helping Latin American frontline medics to fight COVID-19.

Since mid-April, CDC Central America and its implementing partners have hosted two webinars per week for nurses, doctors and other medical workers who treat or research the COVID-19 virus.

Participants can join the Spanish-language program from anywhere across Latin America and the United States.

Four thousand people have joined the first eight sessions. Nearly half of the participants are from Central America, where the virus has strained local resources.

“This platform is giving the opportunity for health care workers in the region to ask questions to specialists about COVID-19 case management,” said Dr. Diana Forno of CDC Central America.

Each session lasts an hour and focuses on emergency response and case management. The sessions are hosted by two technical experts who each give a 20-minute presentation. Participants can ask specific questions drawn from their firsthand experience for 20 minutes.

Map showing Central American participants in CDC webinars (State Dept./H.Efrem)
(State Dept./H.Efrem)

Topics covered include:

  • Epidemiology.
  • Infection control.
  • Case management of adults.
  • Case management for children and pregnant women.
  • Mental health in patients.
  • Resiliency for health care workers.

“This program is very important,” said one participant through a feedback survey. “The initiative gives us the context of COVID-19 to transmit to our nurse school community and the education society to promote hygiene measures to prevent and control the pandemic.”

The CDC created the CDC Central America office in Guatemala in 2005. The COVID-19 webinar series is a modified version of the office’s Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) program.

ECHO has been implemented since 2017 to fight diseases like tuberculosis and HIV in the region, Dr. Forno said.

The webinar program is one of the ways the U.S. government is helping Central and South America manage COVID-19. To date, the U.S. has given over $22 million to Central America and $30 million to South America to help countries fight the virus.