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Global Health Security Agenda Programs Protect Americans from Infectious Disease Threats

Posted on by Anne Schuchat, MD (RADM, USPHS)

Dr. Anne SchuchatToday’s world of increasing interconnectivity and mobility accelerates the shared global risk to human health and well-being. The United States cannot effectively protect the health of its citizens without addressing infectious disease threats around the world. A pathogen that begins in a remote town can reach major cities on all six continents in 36 hours[1]. When the SARS coronavirus outbreak struck Beijing in 2003, we saw a city of 14 million people come to a standstill– empty airports, hotels and restaurants; schools and universities closed; and travel and trade interrupted. When Ebola struck West Africa in 2014, killing 11,000, the tremendous loss of life shook the world. As we saw with Ebola, even the threat of spread of an infectious disease can have a significant impact in the United States. Helping other countries to control disease outbreaks where they start is by far the most effective and cost-efficient way to prevent diseases from spreading to the United States.


Dr. Ann Schuchat visiting the Disco Hill cemetery in Liberia where many victims of the Ebola outbreak are buried.
Dr. Anne Schuchat visiting the Disco Hill Cemetery in Liberia where many victims of the Ebola outbreak are buried.

The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), launched in 2014, is a partnership across countries, international organizations, and other partners to build sustainable health systems to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats whether naturally occurring, accidental, or deliberately released. In fiscal year 2015, the United States committed $1 billion over 5 years to support GHSA. In the three years since this commitment, the United States has strengthened public, human, and animal health systems to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats. CDC is proud of the notable gains over the first years of implementation of the GHSA.

In 2017, CDC and partners, both governmental and nongovernmental, continued to fulfill the vision of GHSA, providing leadership in health security capacity building programs around the world. The work support by CDC has translated into faster detection, response, and containment of disease threats. This week, the U.S. government launched a report on 2017 accomplishments, titled “Implementing the Global Health Security Agenda: Progress and Impact from U.S. Government Investments.” Yesterday, the White House released a statement about the report.


Vietnam's national EOC was inaugurated in February 2015.
Vietnam’s national EOC was inaugurated in February 2015.

I want to highlight just a few examples of the accomplishments highlighted in this report. In April 2017, Liberia reported 14 cases, and eight deaths, from an unidentified illness. The country quickly mobilized 14 U.S.-trained Liberian disease detectives, activated the new national Public Health Emergency Operations Center (PHEOC), and deployed a national rapid response team. By happenstance, I arrived in Liberia in early May 2017 for a series of visits to see the GHSA-funded activities. I had the chance to meet some of these first responders – each and every one of whom praised CDC’s frontline disease detective training and talked about how critical this was to their success in controlling this outbreak. Local laboratory testing ruled out Ebola within 24 hours, and CDC laboratories in the United States confirmed the cause as meningococcal disease, a deadly bacterial illness; CDC laboratories also provided reagents to Liberia for further testing. Rapid and coordinated response interventions, such as contact-tracing, limited the outbreak to 31 cases and 13 deaths.


Live bird market in Hanoi, Vietnam, 2017
Live bird market in Hanoi, Vietnam, 2017

Additionally, CDC has spearheaded efforts to enhance event-based surveillance (EBS) in U.S.-supported GHSA countries. For example, the EBS pilot platform in Vietnam trained nearly 9,000 public health workers and reported more than 4,000 potential events, 317 of which required a public health response. CDC brings a “One Health” approach to our work in Vietnam to ensure deadly bugs that circulate among animals don’t threaten humans. When I visited Vietnam in August 2017 and spent time touring the live bird market in Hanoi, I was reminded how fine a line exists between animal and human health. In 2018, the Vietnam Ministry of Health is preparing to integrate EBS into its national surveillance system and launch it across the entire country. A recent issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases further highlights accomplishments from CDC and partners to protect Americans and the global community by supporting containment of health threats at their source.

“The Global Health Security Agenda is a smart investment to protect American health, lives, and interests at home and abroad. Building on decades of experience, CDC’s disease experts and partners work to keep the world safe and secure by stopping disease threats early and at their sources” – Dr. Anne Schuchat, Acting Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Even if some diseases never reach American shores, they can threaten the US economy. Two recently published CDC analyses show that in addition to tragic loss of life, the next global infectious disease outbreak could harm the U.S. export economy and threaten U.S. jobs. Rapidly detecting and controlling disease threats in other countries is critical to the U.S. economy and jobs.

While we have made progress, there is still much work to do to accomplish the GHSA vision of a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats. CDC’s continued focus on global health security in 2018 and beyond will help ensure that critically important, but still fragile, accomplishments in some of the most world’s most vulnerable places can be sustained and further enhanced in the months and years ahead. By helping other countries protect themselves, we are able to better protect Americans.

Dr Anne Schuchat
Dr Anne Schuchat, Acting Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

On Monday, March 12 the Kaiser Family Foundation held an event on the future of U.S. global health security efforts with a panel of leading experts. Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC Acting Director gave the keynote address at the event. Please see the video of Dr. Schuchat’s keynote address (here) or recording on Facebook (here).

[1] Jonas, Olga B. 2013. Pandemic Risk. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.

Posted on by Anne Schuchat, MD (RADM, USPHS)Leave a comment

World Birth Defects Day 2018 Raises Global Awareness of Birth Defects

Every year, millions of babies around the world are born with a serious birth defect. In many countries, birth defects are one of the leading causes of death in babies and young children. Babies who survive and live with these conditions are at an increased risk for long-term disabilities and other health problems. The fourth Read More >

Posted on by Margaret A. Honein, Ph.D, M.P.H., Acting Director, Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental DisabilitiesLeave a commentTags ,

Continuing the Fight Against Zika

Zika virus continues to spread in many countries and territories around the globe. Because there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika, the virus and its associated health outcomes will remain a significant and enduring public health challenge. The Danger from Zika Although many people infected with Zika experience mild or no symptoms, infection during Read More >

Posted on by Olga L. Henao, MPH, PhD, Epidemiologist2 CommentsTags , , , ,

IMPACT Program in Kenya: A Fellow’s Experience

Oren (right) with some of his colleagues Dr. Vincent Yator (center) and Athanasio Omondi (left) engage with a International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease facilitator, Dr. Gihan El-Nehas (standing) during a group session.

Many doctors and other health workers in my country have limited background or training in leadership and management, yet they often find themselves in leadership positions. This was my case when I was appointed Sub-County Medical Officer in February 2014. Starting out was no easy task, considering I was more used to clinical work. Here, Read More >

Posted on by Dr. Oren Nyambane Ombiro4 CommentsTags , , ,

Creating Strength in Numbers to End Violence Against Women & Girls

Dr. Daniela Ligiero

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign falls every year between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25th, and Human Rights Day on December 10th. It is a time to raise awareness and galvanize global support and action to end violence against women and girls around the Read More >

Posted on by Dr. Daniela Ligiero, Executive Director and CEO, Together for GirlsLeave a commentTags ,

Rubella and CRS Elimination: A Race Worth Winning

AEFI management kit

AEFI Management Kit. Photo credit: Rania Tohme/CDC More than 100,000 children worldwide are born with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) every year to mothers infected with the rubella virus. Sadly, these children will suffer a lifetime because of birth defects such as blindness, deafness, and heart disease, even though a cost-effective vaccine is widely available to Read More >

Posted on by Susan Reef, MD, MPH, Medical Epidemiologist and Rubella Team Lead, Global Immunization Division & Gavin Grant, MD, MPH, Medical Epidemiologist, Global Immunization DivisionLeave a commentTags , , ,

Everyone Needs Somewhere to Go: World Toilet Day

Charcoal briquettes manufactured from human waste in East Africa

Charcoal briquettes manufactured from human waste in East Africa (Photo courtesy of Eric Mintz, CDC) We use toilets every day – at home, school, and work – yet 40% of the world’s population does not have this luxury.  Clean and safe toilets are more than just a place to use the restroom.  They are essential Read More >

Posted on by Madison Walter, MPH, CHESLeave a commentTags ,

Overcoming obstacles to polio eradication in Pakistan

Picture of worker distributing polio advocacy items to children.

Originally published on October 5, 2017 on Rotary Voices “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Henry Ford When I first joined Pakistan’s PolioPlus Committee (PNPPC) as a manager close to eight years ago, polio eradication seemed within our reach. I used the opportunity to study poliomyelitis beyond just Read More >

Posted on by Alina A. Visram, manager, Pakistan National PolioPlus CommitteeLeave a commentTags ,

Precision Public Health: Using Malawi Population-Based Impact Assessment (MPHIA) Data to Reach HIV Epidemic Control in Malawi

The Malawi Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (MPHIA) is Malawi’s first nationally representative HIV survey that measures national HIV incidence, pediatric HIV prevalence, and viral load suppression. MPHIA has provided detailed information on the current status of the HIV epidemic and the uptake of HIV prevention, care, and treatment services in Malawi. In his remarks during Read More >

Posted on by Nellie Wadonda-Kabondo and Danielle PayneLeave a commentTags , , , ,

Looking Ahead to a Measles and Rubella Free World

Robert Linkins, MPH, PhD

Vaccines fight diseases and save lives. Think of achievements like smallpox eradication, a polio-free world close at hand, and 2-3 million deaths prevented each year through routine immunizations. Yet despite a safe and effective vaccine against measles and rubella, these deadly viruses continue to steal the health and lives of children all over the world. Read More >

Posted on by Robert Linkins, MPH, PhDLeave a comment