As the year comes to a close, CDC, America’s health protection agency, looks back at top five health concerns in 2013 and previews the five health threats that loom for 2014.
CDC works 24/7 saving lives and protecting people from health threats. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC increases the health security of our nation year in and year out.
(Above photo: The CDC scientist shown here is working at BSL4 laboratory–a maximum containment laboratory– with organisms that pose a high risk of transmission of life-threatening disease and for which no vaccines or antibiotics are available. BSL4 laboratories are often referred to as “hot zones” by recent books and movies. Photo credit: James Gathany, CDC)
Here’s a snapshot of CDC looking back at 2013 health challenges, and ahead to 2014 health worries:
Top 5 health achievements looking back at 2013:
1. Tips From Former Smokers campaign
Americans quit smoking due to national media campaign.
A CDC study published this year in The Lancet shows that an estimated 1.6 million smokers attempted to quit smoking and more than 200,000 Americans had quit smoking immediately following the three-month “Tips From Former Smokers” (Tips) national ad campaign in 2012. Researchers estimate that more than 100,000 will likely quit smoking permanently because of the Tips campaign. These results exceed the campaign’s original goals of 500,000 quit attempts and 50,000 successful quits. Ads featured emotionally powerful stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities. The campaign encouraged people to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a toll-free number to access quit support across the country, or visit a quit-assistance website.
2. Listeria & Advanced Molecular Detection
CDC uses Advance Molecular Detection to reduce impact of Listeriosis.
Listeria ranks third as a cause of death from major foodborne germs in the United States and sickens about 1,600 people each year. Because it can be so deadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has increasingly focused on better ways to track and trace Listeria outbreaks. During 2013, CDC used whole genome sequencing along with diagnostic testing for the first time to help clarify which patients’ illnesses were related to an outbreak of listeriosis associated with consumption of contaminated cheese. The use of new Advanced Molecular Detection tools allowed CDC to successfully define the outbreak strain and more easily and quickly show which illnesses are part of an outbreak and respond sooner. The near real-time surveillance also makes it possible to tie past illnesses to the strain that is causing the present illness. (Left photo: CDC microbiologist Jessica Halpin prepares a sample of Listeria for DNA fingerprinting by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Each type of foodborne bacteria has a unique DNA fingerprint that scientists can identify using techniques like PFGE.)
3. Million Hearts®
CDC prevents heart attacks and strokes.
CDC released a Vital Signs in 2013 showing that at least 200,000 deaths each year from heart disease in the U.S. could be prevented through changes by individuals, such as stopping smoking, more physical activity, and less salt in the diet; community changes to create safe places to exercise and smoke-free areas; improvements in managing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes; and improvement in acute care, secondary prevention, and rehabilitation. CDC also developed and distributed new resources , recommendations , and protocols , to help health care professionals, communities, and individuals work together to contribute to the Million Hearts® goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. CDC also recognized the best practices of high performers in achieving excellence in the ABCS .
4. Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI)
CDC finds victories in fight to eliminate Healthcare-Associated Infections.
On any given day, about 1 in every 20 hospitalized patients has an infection caused by receiving medical care. These infections cost the U.S. healthcare system billions of dollars and can present patients with devastating emotional, financial, and medical consequences. CDC continues to work toward the elimination of healthcare-associated infections across medical care. More than 12,000 healthcare facilities now track infections using CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). CDC has found that bloodstream infections in patients with central lines have decreased by 44% and surgical-site infections have decreased by 20% since 2008, and that following CDC protocols could cut some dialysis-related bloodstream infections in half.
5. Celebrating 10 Years of PEPFAR
Ten years of success combatting international HIV/AIDS.
CDC and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) commemorate a decade of success in fighting global HIV/AIDS. Ten years ago, this modern-day plague was devastating the health and wellbeing of millions of individuals in communities across Africa and in other resource poor countries around the world. Today, we celebrate extraordinary progress in reducing new HIV infections and providing life-saving care and treatment to those living with HIV/AIDS. CDC contributions have played a critically important part in all of these accomplishments. Throughout the past decade, CDC has been advancing science and innovation, and making strategic investments to build the capacity of host countries to lead their own responses to the AIDS epidemic. In 2013, PEPFAR prevented the one millionth baby from being infected with HIV and has 6.7 million people on treatment, with incidence falling in nearly all PEPFAR countries. The next phase of PEPFAR will be equally pivotal as CDC continues to implement biomedical interventions proven to dramatically decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS. Collaboration between PEPFAR and CDC’s new Global Health Security project is demonstrating that rapid progress is possible to better find, stop, and prevent health threats. CDC is assessing the epidemic impact of rapidly bringing these interventions to scale in countries with high HIV/AIDS burdens as it continues to emphasize the importance of HIV testing and counseling as the gateway to all prevention and treatment interventions.
Top 5 health threats looking ahead in 2014:
1. Antibiotic Resistance & Advanced Molecular Detection
Coping with untreatable infections in The End of the Antibiotic Era
Every year, more than 2 million people in the U.S. get infections that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a result. CDC recently reported a first-ever snapshot of the burden and threats posed by the antibiotic-resistant germs that have the most impact on human health and identified four essential steps to combat antibiotic resistance. In 2014, CDC will continue to work with federal, state, and local partners towards improving antibiotic use, preventing infections and the spread of resistance, gathering data on antibiotic-resistant infections, and developing diagnostic tests to track the development of resistance. Also, with advanced molecular detection (AMD), CDC, public health partners, and healthcare facilities will be better able to track and stop the spread of drug-resistant infections in healthcare facilities, thereby protecting patients and saving lives. (Right photo: CDC microbiologist, Tatiana Travis, sets up real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to detect drug-resistant pathogens.)
2. Prescription Drug Abuse and Overdose
Reducing the number of misuse, abuse or overdose amidst a growing epidemic
Deaths from prescription painkillers have reached epidemic levels in the past decade, and more than 16,500 people died from painkiller overdoses in 2010. CDC is working to reduce the misuse, abuse and overdose of prescription painkillers while ensuring patients with pain have access to safe, effective treatment. CDC continues to track prescription drug overdose trends to better understand the epidemic. And, in 2014, will continue to focus on comprehensive state efforts to develop, implement and evaluate promising strategies to prevent prescription drug abuse and overdose.
3. Global Health Security
Securing our global health borders knowing that disease can spread nearly anywhere within 24 hours
Infectious disease outbreaks, whether natural, intentional, or accidental, are still among the foremost dangers to human health and the global economy. With patterns of global travel and trade, disease can spread nearly anywhere within 24 hours. That’s why the ability to prevent, detect and respond to these disease threats must be developed and strengthened overseas and not just here in the U.S. Through strategic investments in critical public health systems, CDC is working with Ministries of Health to increase their ability to prepare for and respond to public health threats and reduce the risk of these threats crossing borders.
Preventing cancer in the U.S. by vaccinating preteens and teens
For both boys and girls, HPV vaccination rates continue to be well below the Healthy People goals for 2020, leaving an entire generation susceptible to HPV-related cancers. CDC will continue to monitor adolescent vaccination coverage levels via the National Immunization Survey (NIS) – Teen. Additionally, we will provide technical assistance to 11 immunization program awardees that received funding to improve HPV vaccination coverage levels among adolescent girls and boys. We will also continue outreach and education to clinicians through continuing medical education, partnership with professional associations, and other educational opportunities to help strengthen vaccine recommendations and eliminate missed opportunities for HPV vaccination. Finally, utilizing partnership building and media outreach, CDC will continue awareness activities aimed at parents of 11-12 year olds to help promote understanding and uptake of HPV vaccine.
Coming together to end polio once and for all
The world is closer than ever to ending polio everywhere, thanks to the efforts of CDC and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. However, challenges must be addressed in 2014 to meet the goal of eradicating polio once and for all. Insecurity is the biggest challenge. Active conflict, military operations and/or local bans on immunizations prevent polio vaccinators from reaching approximately two million children in high-risk areas. Overcoming this challenge is a critical step towards ending polio and improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children. Working together as part of a committed global effort, we are confident that we will be able to change history and end polio forever. (Left photo: Child polio drops in Nepal. Photo Credit: Adam Bjork, 2011)
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