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U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit SOUTH was established in 1983 through an agreement between the governments of Peru and the United States of America and between the US and Peruvian Navies.  This agreement established a research laboratory in Callao, Peru on the Centro Medico Naval (CEMENA) campus to conduct scientific research in tropical medicine to the benefit of both countries.  NAMRU SOUTH is a diagnostic and research laboratory specializing in infectious diseases of public and global health concern such as dengue fever, malaria, diarrheal diseases, and sexually transmitted infections.  NAMRU SOUTH has consistently relied on a strong collaboration between the United States and Peru, and this partnership continues today where 90% of its nearly 300 staff members are Peruvian.  NAMRU SOUTH has contributed to the education and scientific development of 33 Peruvian scientists, 22 physicians, and 613 research technicians.  These researchers have produced over 320 joint scientific publications.  Most importantly, throughout its history, NAMRU SOUTH research has directly resulted in improved health protection for Peruvian and U.S. citizens alike through real-time communication with the Peruvian Ministries of Health (MOH) and Defense (MOD).
NAMRU SOUTH works closely with other arms of the Peruvian Armed Forces and the Peruvian government, in addition to Peruvian universities and institutes.  These relationships are true collaborations between scientific peers to accomplish the common goal of reducing the infectious disease burden in Peru and the world.
Since 2008, NAMRU SOUTH has assisted in over 140 outbreak investigations and currently has 26 ongoing collaborative research projects with the Peruvian MOH and the MOD. 
Other examples that specifically highlight the successful collaborations within South America are:
  • HIV Surveillance and Prevention (1980s)
NAMRU SOUTH started its partnership with the Peruvian Ministry of Health and Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in the 1980s.  In 1985, this partnership launched the largest HIV prevalence study in Latin America.  The MOH used the results to improve the safety of donated blood for transfusion recipients throughout Peru.  Additionally, NAMRU SOUTH trained Peruvian Armed Forces laboratories to improve the technical proficiency of lab personnel in HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis, contributing to improved health protection of the Peruvian military forces.
  • Cholera Outbreak Support (1990s)
In the early to mid-1990s, NAMRU SOUTH provided diagnostic laboratory support to the MOH in its efforts to contain the severe cholera outbreak that spread throughout Peru.  NAMRU SOUTH provided the MOH with reference lab testing to successfully contain this dangerous outbreak that threatened the health of all Peruvians.
  • Dengue Outbreak Support (1990s, 2020s)
In the early 1990s, NAMRU SOUTH identified the first documented dengue outbreak in the Amazon region, in both Iquitos and Tarpot.  Subsequent assistance to the Peruvian Navy, especially in Iquitos, and to the MOH included laboratory testing and guidance to the medical teams on successful outbreak medical response.
  • Malaria Treatment Improvements (1990s)
Throughout the late 1990s, in response to an increase in malaria cases in the Amazonas region, NAMRU SOUTH, the MOH, and other national and international organizations conducted research studies that discovered high levels of malaria drug resistance.  These studies directly led the MOH to change malaria treatment protocols significantly reducing the health burden of malaria in these areas.
  • Zika Assistance (2010s)
In 2016, NAMRU SOUTH provided technical assistance to the Peruvian MOH in the detection and identification of the first case of Zika Virus in Iquitos, sharing biological samples and real-time information with local and national health authorities to help contain the disease.

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