Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel (CATMAT) Terms of reference
Updated: July 12, 2023
- 1.0 Background
- 2.0 Mandate
- 3.0 Membership
- 4.0 Other Representatives
- 5.0 Secretariat and Executive Secretary
- 6.0 Sub-committees
- 7.0 Affiliations and Interests
- 8.0 Confidentiality
- 9.0 Indemnification
- 10.0 Meetings, Deliberations, Recommendations and Final Reports
- 11.0 Travel and expenses
- 12.0 Media and Communications
At its 1988 meeting, the Advisory Committee on Epidemiology expressed the need in Canada for rational, consistent and widely disseminated guidelines for travel medicine and tropical medicine, and recommended the creation of an advisory committee for that purpose. The Committee to Advise on Tropical Medicine and Travel (CATMAT) was formed, and held its first meeting in February 1990.
CATMAT operates as an independent advisory body under the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) Policy on External Advisory Bodies. All elements of the policy apply unless Terms of Reference specifically state otherwise. PHAC retains all decision-making authority, policy making responsibilities and investigatory responsibilities.
CATMAT provides PHAC with travel health-related advice for travellers and health care professionals.
CATMAT carries out its mandate by:
- providing recommendations related to the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases and other health hazards that may be encountered by Canadian travellers outside of Canada;
- suggesting mechanisms for the widespread dissemination and utilization of such recommendations and other travel or tropical medicine-related health information; and
- advising on priorities for epidemiological research and other activities related to travel or tropical medicine.
The scope of CATMAT's activities may also include providing recommendations on:
- malaria prevention and treatment;
- the use of approved immunization products prior to travel. Due to the differences in disease prevalence in other countries, these recommendations may extend beyond those developed for Canada by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI);
- the use of biologic and other drugs to treat or prevent tropical diseases in travellers, based on current scientific evidence. Should any CATMAT recommendation make reference to the use of a class of agent not marketed or licensed in Canada, the acquisition of any such agent must comply with the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act;
- surveillance of tropical diseases acquired by Canadians travelling abroad;
- the dissemination of information and guidelines, as described above, to Canadian health professionals, the Canadian travel industry, and the Canadian public; and
- standards and quality of the travel medicine advice provided to travellers in Canada.
CATMAT's membership shall consist of a maximum of ten (10) volunteer voting members, including a Chair and a Vice-Chair. Membership vacancies are filled through an open-call nomination process for applications from interested candidates. Qualified candidates who were not initially selected to fill a vacancy will be kept on record for a period of up to two years to be considered for future openings.
The composition of CATMAT's membership will aim to encompass a diverse range of relevant knowledge, expertise, experience, and perspectives in the fields of travel health, tropical medicine, and infectious diseases, spanning various geographic regions. PHAC will appoint representatives to serve as members of CATMAT, adhering to the principles and criteria outlined in PHAC's Policy on External Advisory Bodies.
Furthermore, CATMAT seeks to reflect the diversity and demographics of Canada, including factors such as gender, official language, race, and ethnicity, in order to ensure a well-rounded representation of perspectives. It is important to note that members cannot be represented by alternates or substitutes.
As a requirement for membership, members will consent to the public disclosure of a summary of their expertise, experience, affiliations, and any potential conflicts of interest. This information will be made available online to promote transparency and accountability.
3.1 Terms of appointment
Members are appointed by the Vice President (VP), Health Security and Regional Operations Branch (HSROB), PHAC, based on the recommendations of the Executive Secretary, Chair, and Vice-Chair.
Term and appointment of the Chair:
The Chair of CATMAT shall be a voting member of the committee and will be appointed by the VP, HSROB, based on the recommendations put forth by Executive Secretary. In consultation with the outgoing Chair, the individual's demonstrated leadership abilities and effective collaboration with members and other CATMAT participants will be carefully evaluated. The Vice-Chair will be the primary candidate considered for succeeding the outgoing Chair. However, if the Vice-Chair declines the chair position, a new nomination process will be initiated, involving input and nominations from CATMAT members.
The Chair will serve a three-year term, with the possibility of a one-term extension lasting three years. Six months prior to the completion of the Chair’s term, appointment of a Chair-elect will be initiated. In the year following the completion of the term, the former Chair may provide support and guidance to the current Chair in the committee’s operation, offering advice, collaboration and editorial assistance as needed.
Term and appointment of the Vice-Chair:
The Vice-Chair of CATMAT shall be a voting member of the committee and will be appointed by the VP, HSROB, based on the recommendations of the Chair and Executive Secretary. The selection process will consider the individual’s demonstrated ability to effectively collaborate with CATMAT members and other participants.
The Vice-Chair will be appointed for a three-year term with the possibility of a one-term (three year) extension upon mutual agreement. It is customary for the Vice-Chair to be considered as the successor to the position of Chair when the Chair's term is complete. However, if the Vice-Chair declines the appointment, a new nomination will be made by the committee for the Chair.
Term and appointment selection of Members:
Members of CATMAT will be appointed by the VP, HSROB, based on the recommendations of the Executive Secretary and following consultation with the CATMAT Chair and Vice-Chair. The appointed members should be recognized experts in the fields of travel health, tropical medicine, or infectious diseases, but they cannot be federal government employees. Normally, members will serve a four-year term, but PHAC may consider an extension of up to four years for an individual term. For members completing their final term, an additional extension (up to a maximum of 2 years) may be considered, subject to a recommendation from the CATMAT Chair, Vice-chair, Executive Secretary, and Working Group lead, if they are leading the development of guidance that is yet to be completed.
Roles and Responsibilities
Members responsibilities include but are not limited to:
- being available and prepared to participate in committee meetings, including virtual meetings (teleconferences, videoconferences, etc.) and email exchanges; as well as participating in discussions about the advisory body’s recommendations, advice, or reports to PHAC;
- declaring any changes in their affiliations and interests and notifying, in writing (email), the Secretariat and Chair of the changes in their affiliations and interests related to the committee’s mandate;
- directing any inquiries from the media or the public to the Secretariat;
- responding promptly to email requests or other communication from the Secretariat; and
- reviewing and providing input into all CATMAT statements.
Members cannot identify an alternate should they be unable to attend meetings.
The Chair has the same responsibilities as members as well as additional responsibilities including, but not limited to:
- providing input to PHAC on the selection of members;
- chairing advisory body meetings;
- inviting members to make a presentation at a meeting, in consultation with the Executive Secretary and when relevant and appropriate;
- facilitating a full and frank discussion among committee members in fulfillment of the committee’s mandate;
- seeking approval from members through consensus. If consensus is not reached among voting members, a majority vote (6/10) will be used. Once approved, the recommendations are considered endorsed by CATMAT; and
- delivering the committee’s endorsed statement to PHAC.
The Vice-Chair, when requested by the Chair or in the absence of the Chair may lead the meeting(s) and assume other tasks or responsibilities as needed or delegated by the Chair.
3.2 Resignation Process
A member may resign from CATMAT by writing to the Executive Secretary, with a copy to the CATMAT Chair, including the effective date of the resignation.
3.3 Reasons for Termination
A member’s appointment may be terminated for a variety of reasons including:
- completion of term;
- member resigns;
- member becomes a federal government employee;
- the mandate of CATMAT is changed and the member’s knowledge, experience, or expertise is no longer relevant to the revised mandate;
- PHAC rescinds the advisory body’s mandate and terms of reference;
- member breaches her/his confidentiality obligations;
- member has missed three consecutive meetings of the advisory body without a satisfactory reason;
- member has acted in a way that jeopardizes the integrity of the advisory body; or
- member consistently fails to meet their commitments to CATMAT.
The Executive Secretary will notify a member in writing about the termination and will provide the member with the reason for why the appointment is being concluded, and effective date of termination.
4.0 Other Representatives
4.1 Ex-officio Representatives
Ex-officio representatives are recommended by their organizations for a period of time specified by their organization. Endorsement by the VP, HSRO, of the recommended ex-officio representative will be sought by the Executive Secretary.
Ex-officio representatives shall have no voting status.
Ex-officio representatives may have substitutes and will support the work of CATMAT and PHAC by:
- providing knowledge and expertise;
- communicating the views of the organization they represent;
- serving on working groups for the development of CATMAT statements;
- being available and prepared to participate in committee meetings, including virtual meetings (teleconferences, videoconferences, etc.) and email exchanges;
- participating in the discussions about the advisory body’s recommendations, advice, or reports to PHAC; and
- responding promptly to email requests or other communication from the Secretariat.
4.2 Liaison Representatives
Representatives of national or professional associations or committees may be invited to participate in CATMAT’s activities in the capacity of Liaison Representatives. Each group will be invited to identify a representative who will be expected to bring knowledge and input to CATMAT discussions; express the views of the organization; and communicate CATMAT’s advice to the organization, as appropriate. The CATMAT Secretariat will share such information with the NACI Secretariat as deemed appropriate. The organization may rotate or substitute this Representative as it sees fit.
Liaison representatives shall have no voting status.
The nomination of liaison representatives, for a period of time specified by their organization, will be endorsed by the VP, HSRO, on the recommendation of the Executive Secretary and Chair to achieve the best use of resources for the provision of technical or subject matter expertise.
The role of liaison representatives is to support CATMAT’s work by:
- providing knowledge and expertise;
- participating in CATMAT working group/s for the development of CATMAT statements;
- serving as the lead of a CATMAT working group, as required;
- sharing their respective organization’s pertinent news with CATMAT;
- reviewing and providing feedback on CATMAT statements;
- being available and prepared to participate in committee meetings, including virtual meetings (teleconferences, videoconferences, etc.) and email exchanges; and
- directing any inquiries from the media or the public to the Secretariat.
Liaison representatives will declare any affiliations and interests and notify the Secretariat and Chair of any changes in their affiliations and interests related to the committee’s mandate during the time they are members of the advisory body in writing (email).
4.3 Presenters, Invited Guests, and Observers
CATMAT may invite individuals who are not advisory body members or participating representatives to provide input on a specific topic or agenda item. Such requests should be conveyed to the Executive Secretary of CATMAT for approval by PHAC. At the discretion of CATMAT, and with PHAC’s approval, interested parties or concerned members of the public may be invited to make presentations to CATMAT in writing or in person.
5.0 Secretariat and Executive Secretary
Within the constraints of available resources, PHAC will provide reasonable and necessary administrative support, public information services and technical assistance. The Secretariat will prepare a record of decision for all committee meetings. These will be reviewed for accuracy by CATMAT. Records of decisions of meetings will be kept to the minimum detail required to summarize the proceedings effectively and to reflect the decisions taken. The summary records of decisions of all CATMAT committee meetings will be made available on PHAC’s website.
CATMAT statements pertaining to vaccine use will be shared with the NACI Secretariat Manager prior to the completion of the statements. Similarly, NACI’s Secretariat Manager is responsible for sharing all draft NACI statements that apply to travellers with CATMAT’s Secretariat Manager for comment by CATMAT prior to the completion of the statements.
5.2 Executive Secretary
PHAC is represented by the Director, Office of Travel Health (OTH) within the Centre for Border and Travel Health, who serves in a non-voting capacity as the Executive Secretary of CATMAT.
The Executive Secretary provides leadership and strategic advice and works closely with the Chair and Secretariat to meet the committees’ mandate in an effective and efficient manner. This position provides advice to PHAC on CATMAT related issues and keeps CATMAT members informed of issues that may impact its operation.
CATMAT members may submit a request to the Executive Secretary to create a sub-committee to examine specific issues or develop position papers. The Chair for a sub-committee is appointed by the Vice President, HSRO, on the recommendation of the Executive Secretary. The selection is made in consultation with the outgoing sub-committee Chair and CATMAT Chair and based on a demonstrated ability to lead and work effectively with members, and other CATMAT participants.
Recommendations developed by sub-committees are brought back to CATMAT for final approval through consensus. If consensus is not reached among voting members, a majority vote (6/10) will be used. Once approved, the recommendations are considered endorsed by CATMAT.
The Malaria Subcommittee is a standing subcommittee of CATMAT responsible for regular revisions and updates of the Canadian recommendations for the prevention and treatment of malaria among international travellers. A standing Malaria subcommittee was created in recognition of the ongoing risk of malaria to Canadians, the constantly changing disease burden, areas of risk, drug resistance and ever-expanding body of literature. Recommendations developed by this sub-committee are brought back to CATMAT in the same manner as all other CATMAT statements.
7.0 Affiliations and Interests
To be considered for appointment, potential members of the Committee are required to complete the Affiliations and Interests Declaration Form and return it to the CATMAT Secretariat.
In keeping with the Privacy Act, a completed Affiliations and Interests Declaration Form is considered confidential. PHAC will not make public any information in the form without the member’s permission. However, as a condition of membership, members will allow PHAC to publish, on its website and in print, a summary of expertise, experience, and affiliations and interests, based on the completed declaration form.
In addition to publishing the summary, PHAC or the Chair will also ask members to make a verbal disclosure of any relevant change to affiliations and interests at the beginning of each advisory body meeting.
Members must update their declaration in writing whenever their situation changes. Disclosure should be made at the earliest possible time and, in any event, prior to any discussion and decision-making on any related subjects. In situations where conflict of interest or the appearance thereof arises in the course of CATMAT’s work, participants must declare the existence of the conflict of interest and may be required to recuse himself or herself from participation in the discussions on that subject matter, or from further participation on CATMAT or a Working Group, depending on the particular circumstances.
PHAC will review declarations before making appointments and on an ongoing basis, at least on an annual basis, as well as any time the advisory body mandate is changed.
Members are expected to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. They may not use their position on an advisory body for their private gain or for the gain of any other person or company.
To support their ability to provide well-informed advice, members may receive confidential information. Everyone must sign a Confidentiality Agreement before participating as a member, representative, presenter, guest, or observer.
The Confidentiality Agreement prohibits the disclosure of any confidential information received through participation in the advisory body, including information received orally or in writing, through email correspondence, telephone calls, print materials, meeting discussions, etc.
The CATMAT Chair will provide everyone participating in the meeting, telephone discussion, email exchange, or in another form of communication clear instructions on the confidentiality of the proceedings.
All members serve on a volunteer basis. PHAC undertakes to provide its volunteer advisory body members with protection against civil liability provided the volunteer member acts in good faith, within the scope of their external advisory body mandate, does not act against the interests of the Crown and does not have available to him/her such protection.
Members act collectively as an advisor to PHAC with respect to the mandate of their advisory body but they are not final decision-makers. PHAC has the ultimate responsibility and accountability for any decision resulting from the advice received from an external advisory body.
CATMAT members shall give prompt notice to PHAC of any claim, action, suit or proceeding brought against the member. If the member is eligible for protection against civil liability, PHAC will, at its own expense, participate in the conduct of the defense of any such claim, action, suit or proceeding, and any negotiations for the settlement of the same.
10.0 Meetings, Deliberations, Recommendations and Final Reports
Use of either of Canada’s Official Languages (French or English) is encouraged.
A meeting of the main committee will occur at least annually. Consideration may also be given by OTH, HSRO for additional meetings/conference calls of the main committee and/or any subcommittees, should circumstances warrant.
The agenda for each meeting will be developed by the Chair in collaboration with the Executive Secretary.
Deliberations, recommendations and final reports are to be developed by members of CATMAT. These reports are to be submitted to the VP, HSRO through the CATMAT Secretariat for approval of the content to be posted on PHAC’s website.
11.0 Travel and expenses
The costs of all travel and per diem expenses for members will be borne by PHAC and paid in accordance with the Treasury Board’s Directive on the Travel, Hospitality, Conferences and Event Expenditures and the National Joint Council’s Travel Directive. Liaison representatives' expenses are paid by the organization they represent.
Travel and per diem expenses for the CATMAT member/representative to attend NACI meetings as the CATMAT representative will be paid for by PHAC, in accordance with the Treasury Board’s Directive on the Travel, Hospitality, Conferences and Event Expenditures and the National Joint Council’s Travel Directive. Honoraria will not be paid.
12.0 Media and Communications
All media requests related to CATMAT should be directed to the Secretariat for direction and response from PHAC’s Communications and Public Affairs Branch (CPAB). If CATMAT members are asked a question by the media that relates to CATMAT’s mandate, they may respond to the question in their personal/professional capacity (for example, an academic professor may speak about his/her research).
CATMAT members must avoid expressing any opinions on behalf of CATMAT or PHAC, or providing information that would be considered confidential, or in relation to a draft NACI or CATMAT statement.
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