Bold Thinking at Abt: Global Health Security

Diana R. Silimperi, MD

Division Vice President for International Health
Multi-Disciplinary Approach | Bio

For International Health Division Vice President Diana R. Silimperi, there is no singular solution to tackling global health security threats. From pandemics and epidemics, to country conflicts and natural disasters, responding to global health security threats requires a multidisciplinary approach. 
“Creative, effective solutions for detecting, preparing for and responding to threats such as Ebola and the Zika virus consist of many different parts,” says Silimperi. “Abt has long history of applying this thinking as we have determined, developed and implemented global health security campaigns that work.”

Having a Strategy Mix

Explains Silimperi, “Our strategies include: building the capacity of health care workers to address the challenges of pandemic diseases; conducting state-of-the-art surveillance; conducting critical research and moving from research to application quickly; implementing vector control programs; and designing and implementing culturally-sensitive social behavior change communication campaigns. Additionally, our climate change experts are advising many entities on risks and adaptation strategies for our changing climate – a growing factor in disease transmission.”
Abt’s success is also attributed to its collection of experts in all relevant technical areas. There is a diverse team on staff of scientists, veterinarians, public health and medical practitioners, epidemiologists, entomologists, policy experts, food safety and security experts, climate change and environmental experts as well as researchers, data surveyors and IT specialists. 
Abt’s multi-disciplinary approach is reflected in our projects such as:
  • The Health Finance and Governance Project working across Caribbean nations to strengthen regional health systems.
  • SHOPS Plus in Haiti which is providing straightforward, practical behavior change solutions for family planning in the midst of Zika.
  • USAID/Vietnam’s Avian and Pandemic Influenza Initiative that built the capacity of the Government of Vietnam and its counterparts to identify, prevent and control emerging infectious disease outbreaks.

Technology Innovations to Reach Vulnerable Populations

As part of the integrated, multidisciplinary approach, Silimperi notes the important role that technology has to play. With real-time data, GIS mapping and other tools, Abt is helping inform infectious disease and other response efforts in the U.S. and around the world. This includes tracking the effectiveness of mosquito insecticide use across 14 countries in Africa; using texting campaigns to inform vulnerable populations about ways to reduce chances of transmission; and using drones to map land and resources in Indonesia.
“As an organization dedicated to improving the health and economic well-being of people worldwide, we recognize, and value, the multidisciplinary approaches that need to be taken when it comes to mounting an integrated, effective and sustained response to these threats,” said Silimperi. “And we know that all we are doing today makes us more prepared to detect and respond to the global health security threats of tomorrow.”

Areas of Expertise

  • Health systems strengthening programs
  • Maternal, newborn and child health
  • Infectious disease program interventions
  • Quality assurance and performance improvement
  • Integrated service delivery across the continuum of care and the delivery system
  • Urban health
  • Implementation research
  • Epidemiology and public health
  • Surveillance systems