WHO/PAHO GONOCOCCAL ANTIMICROBIAL SUSCEPTIBILITY PROGRAM IN THE AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN (GASP)
In order to monitor the extent and types of emerging strains of antibiotic resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and to ensure that the recommended drugs used for treatment are clinically effective, the World Health Organization /Pan American Health Organization (WHO/ PAHO) has established a global surveillance network called the Gonococcal Antimicrobial Susceptibility Program (GASP). The co-ordinating centre for GASP activities in the Americas and the Caribbean was located at the University of Ottawa. The primary objective of the Centre is to develop a sustainable network for gonococcal identification and antimicrobial susceptibility monitoring with laboratories across the Americas and Caribbean. This program is generally linked to broader national STD and HIV control programs because control of curable STDs will impact on the rates of HIV. The Centre works as a network liaison, developing broad expertise in the area of STDs, optimizing use of human resources in a country for testing and data collection purposes, analysing and integrating information, and arranging for data and knowledge exchange. For some countries who have never before had data collected on STDs, the Centre will provide the base for gathering that information. The Centre also has a worldwide network of collaborators, including more than 40 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the United States and Canada.
The Centre has a critical mass of expertise in STD diagnostics, antimicrobial susceptibility testing and standardization, information gathering, molecular epidemiology, research, teaching and training. The Centre works to
- help establish national networks by evaluating the laboratory capability of member countries and tailoring general recommendations on specific tests to the laboratory capability in each region,
- collect prevalence and resistance data and identifies trends in gonococcal susceptibility to antimicrobial agents,
- maintain a central Network reference laboratory and a data management and analysis system, and helping develop national and regional database centres in the member countries,
- develop data gathering computer programs and a data analysis package for use nationally and internationally,
- standardize laboratory methods for the diagnosis and characterization of isolates of Neisseria gonorrhoeae across the Americas and Caribbean,
- develop training programs, including course manuals and audiovisual training materials,
- provide unique molecular epidemiological studies and other related research,
- provide evaluation expertise for test kits, transport media, etc. and develops recommendations concerning these.
The Centre has a unique database including characterized collections of N. gonorrhoeae strains. Specific research and contract services which the Centre can offer to the pharmaceutical and other industries include:
- access to information on and analysis of trends in gonococcal disease, antimicrobial susceptibility and treatment
- standardized testing methods and reporting criteria for gonococcal identification susceptibility to antimicrobial agents
- opportunities to be involved in developing a program of testing and diagnosis, and in developing treatment guidelines and training programs in STDs
- opportunities for antibiotic use studies, clinical trials, and other research
- evaluation of screening and testing kits, specimen transportation kits, transport media database development in a variety of different environmental backgrounds
The Co-ordinating Centre for the Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance Program (GASP) in the Americas and the Caribbean has a worldwide network of collaborators, including more than 35 countries in the Americas and the Caribbean, the United States and Canada. The primary objective of the Centre is to develop a sustainable network for the surveillance of gonococcal infections and antimicrobial susceptibility monitored by laboratories across the Americas and the Caribbean. The Centre works as a liaison network, developing broad expertise in the area of STDs, optimizing human resources for testing and data collection, analyzing and integrating information, and providing the means to share data and knowledge.
The Centre has a unique database on gonorrhea strains, attracting research contacts with pharmaceutical companies and health related industry. Such partnerships provide opportunities, to develop programs of testing and diagnosis, to test new treatments through clinical trials, and to evaluate screening and testing kits as well as specimen transportation kits. The Centre strives to better understand the trends of gonococcal infections and mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance and to develop control mechanisms. The Centre's program aims to impact broader STD and HIV control programs in various countries since it is believed that the control of curable STDs may reduce the rates of HIV.
Several meetings of the GASP network in the Americas have been held independently or in conjunction with STD/HIV related international conferences. Many reports and papers published in peer-reviewed journals have played significant roles in research, development and modification of control programs and government policy-making
For more information on the above, or any specific research needs, please contact:
J.R. Dillon, Ph.D., Former Director (1992-2004)
WHO/PAHO GASP Co-ordinating Centre for the Americas
Dr. Dillon's current correspondence:
Jo-Anne R. Dillon, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean
University of Saskatchewan
Rm. 226, Arts Building
9 Campus Drive
Canada S7N 5A5
Tel: 306 966 4232; Fax: 306 966 8839;