The Alabama Department of Public Health has awarded the University of Alabama at Birmingham nearly $2 million to support the establishment of the Alabama Regional Center for Infection Prevention and Control (ARC IPC).
ARC IPC will bring together experts from across the university and state to assist the ADPH Infectious Disease and Outbreaks Division in addressing issues related to the management and response to emerging infectious diseases. The center's mission is to provide training and assistance to local and state health department IPC personnel, infection control managers and nurses in health care facilities and long-term care facilities, hospital epidemiologists, school nurses, and other infection control practitioners in order to increase their skills in detecting, responding to, and preventing infectious disease outbreaks.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in immense impacts on the economy, health and social well-being of Alabama residents. As of June 2021, there have been more than 548,000 COVID-19 cases and 11,250 deaths in Alabama. Currently, the state's vaccination rates are lagging as new, increasingly transmissible variants, such as the Delta variant, are emerging. In addition, Alabama continues to see increases in cases of hepatitis A and RSV, and as we enter the summer months, concerns of vector-borne and foodborne illnesses increase.
"As a nation and state, we were caught flat-footed by SARS-CoV-2 even though scientists had been warning that coronaviruses had the potential to create a global pandemic," said Suzanne Judd, PhD, professor and co-director of the ARC IPC and director of the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy in the UAB School of Public Health. "Working together with the ADPH will help us to be ready when a new virus or bacteria threatens the health of Alabamians. We will be better prepared to communicate risks to the public to help prevent future pandemics."