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Selected Category: refugee health

CDC Staffers Take No Refuge From Helping Refugees Around the World

Categories: infectious disease, refugee health

A child plays with a kite in a tent camp after the earthquake, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 2010.

A child plays with a kite in a tent camp after the earthquake, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 2010.

For anybody wondering why CDC has a branch dedicated to helping refugees or why the United Nations has formally recognized World Refugee Day every year since it was created in 2001, the answer can be found in a single, stark statistic: In 2013, a person became a new refugee or internally displaced person every 4.1 seconds.

Michelle Dynes, PhD, MPH, MSN, CNM, RN, EIS Officer/Epidemiologist, CDC Emergency Response and Recovery Branch

Michelle Dynes, PhD, MPH, MSN, CNM, RN, EIS Officer/Epidemiologist, CDC Emergency Response and Recovery Branch

Cyrus Shahpar, MD, MBA, MPH, Medical Epidemiologist, CDC Emergency Response and Recovery Branch

Cyrus Shahpar, MD, MBA, MPH, Medical Epidemiologist, CDC Emergency Response and Recovery Branch

That translates to “a population of concern” of nearly 40 million refugees or internally displaced people worldwide every year, according to the United Nations.

It also translates to a lot of illnesses and suffering. And that’s the reason Cyrus Shahpar, Michelle Dynes and approximately 50 other staff in CDC’s Emergency Response and Recovery Branch (Division of Global Health Protection) have their bags packed and are constantly ready to deploy to the field.

Voices from the Central African Republic: FELTP residents remain committed to strengthening disease surveillance and outbreak response in CAR

Categories: child health, immunization, infectious disease, refugee health

CAR refugees forced from their homes by rebels

CAR refugees forced from their homes by rebels

Dr. Els Mathieu, Resident Advisor, CAR- FELTP

Dr. Els Mathieu, Resident Advisor, CAR- FELTP

The Central African Republic (CAR) is a landlocked country in Central Africa, bordered by Chad in the north, Sudan in the northeast, South Sudan in the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo in the south and Cameroon in the west.  CAR is one of the world’s least developed nations and has experienced several periods of political instability, as well as deadly attacks and violence by rebels that have forced nearly 1 million people from their homes in search of refuge.  With so many civilians fleeing to refugee camps in the capital, Bangui, and the provinces, there is an increased need to strengthen disease surveillance and response.

The Value of CDC’s Work in Thailand

Categories: HIV/AIDS, global disease detection, global health security, health systems strengthening, infectious disease, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), refugee health, tuberculosis (TB), violence and injury

 

Thai monk

 

When I became country director in 2013 the relationships between Thailand’s public health officials and CDC were already strong and well established.

Mitch Wolfe, MD MPH, Director, CDC-Thailand

Mitch Wolfe, MD MPH, Director, CDC-Thailand

That wasn’t surprising. CDC’s collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, after all, began 30 years ago and the partnership has been prospering  – and expanding – ever since. And there is a strong history between the two countries – this year Thailand and the US are celebrating 180 years of Friendship.

The reasons are well established too. And numerous.

Last summer, while visiting family, I was asked by a U.S. border guard, “Why is America working abroad for public health?” I was happy to get this question, as it was an opportunity to deepen understanding for why CDC works abroad – to protect Americans from health threats, to build important relationships with strategic partners, and to learn lessons that can be expanded to other parts of the world.

Mental Health in Bhutanese Refugee Populations

Categories: mental health, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), refugee health

Tony Ao, Sc.D, EIS Officer, CDC Global Disease Detection Branch

Tony Ao, Sc.D, EIS Officer, CDC Global Disease Detection Branch

Imagine that you‘ve been driven from your home, deprived of your possessions, made dependent on others, and forced to flee to a foreign country not once, not twice, but three times over the course of your life. You feel isolated and lost without a sense of citizenship or permanent community. Lhotshampas (“People of the South”) are Bhutanese of Nepali origin who have lived in Bhutan and maintained their distinct cultural and religious traditions since the 19th century. Starting in the early 1990s, confronted with increased cultural and religious persecution by the Bhutanese government, more than 100,000 Lhotshampas fled to refugee camps in neighboring Nepal. In these camps, the Lhotshampas faced host country labor and movement restrictions.

CDC in Thailand: Working abroad for global health security

Categories: HIV/AIDS, child health, global health security, health systems strengthening, refugee health, women's/maternal health

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

Last week I traveled with the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to visit our office in Thailand and to see first-hand examples of our successful collaboration with Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), other health-related government and public agencies, and other USG agencies. Secretary Sebelius was deeply impressed by the CDC programs she saw. 

CDC’s partnership with Thailand’s MoPH began more than 30 years ago with Thailand’s Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), a program that trains field epidemiologists (disease detectives) and public health leaders to detect, investigate, and rapidly respond to outbreaks. Similar to FETP programs around the world, FETP residents have become the country’s boots on the ground in the battle to protect public health. They investigate and control disease outbreaks by conducting essential disease surveillance. They also lead many of the nation’s key health and public health entities, including the organization that oversees Thailand’s universal health care coverage organization.

Focusing on Mental Health in a Humanitarian Crisis

Categories: child health, mental health, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), refugee health, violence and injury

Barbara Lopes Cardozo, MD MPH, Medical Officer with the Emergency Response and Recovery Branch, Division of Global Health Protection (proposed)

Barbara Lopes Cardozo, MD MPH, Medical Officer with the Emergency Response and Recovery Branch, Division of Global Health Protection (proposed)

The Syrian refugee crisis has been two years in the making. It represents the culmination of the conflict between the Syrian government and its own people, a violent conflict that has greatly affected the civilian population and caused Syrians to flee in large numbers. Up to 1,000 people are now leaving the country each day; many are heading to Jordan but some have also fled to Turkey, Lebanon, and even Iraq. There is no end in sight as the conflict continues, and even if the regime were to fall, most people are pessimistic that violence would end immediately.

The Syrian refugee camp in Jordan is right along the border of the two countries. It is in the middle of the desert, a flat, featureless, dusty landscape that is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I have seen many refugee camps throughout my career, and while this is certainly not the worst, it is not the best situation either. Many of the families in the camps are from Syria’s middle class, so they are not used to the rougher conditions and shared pit latrines. There have been sanitation problems as families, in attempts to avoid the communal toilets, have dug holes in their tents which end up flooding when it rains. Some are so unprepared for rough living that there have been reports of people creating open fires within their tents in efforts to keep warm. This is not a population familiar with this style of living, unlike African refugees, many of whom are used to moving from camp to camp.

 
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