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Our Global Voices Posts

Parasitologist for the People

Posted on by Adrienne Lefevre, MPH, CHES

LT Knipes chats with school children who have been enrolled and are waiting to be tested for lymphatic filariasis and malaria in Nord Est Department, Haiti.

LT Knipes processes blood samples outside a rural classroom in Haiti’s Nord Est department. The blood samples were tested for lymphatic filariasis and malaria.
LT Knipes processes blood samples outside a rural classroom in Haiti’s Nord Est department. The blood samples were tested for lymphatic filariasis and malaria.

Global health emergencies are a constant in today’s world. In recent years, we have seen the impact of natural disasters, mass migrations, famines, conflicts, and more. When there are large population movements, we see rapid spread of infectious disease. When there is famine, those affected have a compromised immune system, allowing them to contract illnesses easier. For these reasons it is vital that public health staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is on the scene. While we cannot always control the causes and breadth of these emergencies, we can minimize the negative public health impact.

CDC experts have served those most affected by emergencies for many years. CDC promotes positive health outcomes, understanding that a disease threat anywhere is a disease threat everywhere. Our humanitarian health experts are consistently on the frontlines of global health emergencies to protect Americans.

August 19 is World Humanitarian Day, a day to recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by humanitarian workers around the world, including CDC responders. Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer Lieutenant Alaine K. Knipes, a parasitologist by training, is one of CDC’s devoted humanitarian health experts. Alaine’s extensive background in parasites has allowed her to address neglected tropical diseases, such as lymphatic filariasis, while at CDC. While parasites are still Alaine’s primary research interest, her passion for detecting diseases led her to emergency response and recovery work as an EIS officer.

Alaine on assignment in Guinea, boarding a UN humanitarian flight headed back to Conakry after a month in the field
Alaine on assignment in Guinea, boarding a UN humanitarian flight headed back to Conakry after a month in the field

Most of Alaine’s current work involves water, sanitation and hygiene, a vital public health issue. Our world’s water crises necessitate experts who can address waterborne diseases and sanitation issues that threaten the public’s health. Even though the hours are long and exhausting, Alaine is happy to answer the call to action, “In the US we have the knowledge and tools to protect ourselves and our families from many diseases. However, outside the US, obstacles to health and quality of life are often related to challenges in accessing safe drinking water and transmission of infectious diseases. “I love my work at the CDC because, by assisting other countries in responding to disease outbreaks, I am applying my scientific training and expertise to keep Americans safe and healthy.”

Besides being a disease detective, Alaine is also an award-winning photographer whose images are used to promote public health awareness and highlight program successes. Her photographs are part of the CDC’s photography collection and are on permanent display at two of the CDC’s Atlanta campuses. Her ability to share both the successes and challenges of her public health work through a visual medium has been especially meaningful, “Many of us can’t comprehend some of the situations that CDC responders encounter. Being able to share the austere conditions, and also the public health successes made by CDC and local partners, has meant a lot to me.”

One of Alaine's winning photos, taken in Haiti
One of Alaine’s winning photos, taken in Haiti

Please join CDC in thanking Alaine and health professionals across the globe for their contributions to protecting the health, safety and security of people around the world.

Posted on by Adrienne Lefevre, MPH, CHESLeave a commentTags , , , ,

Are Ebola response investments making an impact? CDC Epidemiologist reflects on West Africa then and now

The first time I deployed to West Africa was in September 2014, at the height of the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. I have witnessed many disease outbreaks in my public health career, but this one was more devastating than I could ever have imagined. It eventually took more than 11,000 lives. What was happening Read More >

Posted on by John T, Redd, MD, MPH, FACP, CAPT, US Public Health Services, CDCLeave a commentTags , , , ,

Vaccination remains the most cost-effective strategy to get on track with hepatitis B elimination in resource-limited settings

Midwife providing the 5-in-1 pentavalent vaccine (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis [DTP], hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type b) during a routine vaccination session in Myanmar In the 1990s, the Western Pacific Region had one of the highest prevalence rates of chronic hepatitis B infection in the world (>8%). As a result, in 2005, it was the first World Read More >

Posted on by Dr. Rania Tohme, Team Lead, Global Immunization DivisionLeave a commentTags , , , ,

Training the Future Public Health Workforce in Malawi: Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP)

8. Malawi FETP-Frontline Cohort 2 trainees with mentors and guests during graduation ceremony: Photo courtesy: Kiran Bhurtyal, CDC

At 4:00 PM on July 12, 2016, I received an urgent email from the CDC Malawi office asking if I had any information on a typhoid outbreak in Malosa in southern Malawi. The U.S. Embassy in Malawi was planning a visit to Malosa by the Second Lady of the United States, and they had received reports of an unusually high number of typhoid cases there. Fortunately for me, one of our trainees from the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) had presented on the same outbreak earlier that day during the FETP graduation ceremony.  Read More >

Posted on by Kiran Bhurtyal, CDC MalawiLeave a commentTags ,

Polio Eradication and Beyond: What the Polio Endgame Means for Public Health

Melisachew Adane

The end of polio is in sight, with fewer cases of wild polio virus being reported yearly. Today, polio is on the cusp of eradication, with cases in only a few high-risk areas of three countries—Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. This brings the eradication effort to its final chapter, otherwise known as the polio endgame. The Read More >

Posted on by Manish Patel, MD (CAPT, USPHS)Leave a commentTags , , ,

CDC Protects People from Disease Threats and Outbreaks in the U.S. and Around the World

This blog was originally published on Global Health Council’s The Collective Voice on June 16, 2017. Opinion polls show that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the federal government’s most admired and trusted agencies. Since its founding in 1946, CDC’s history as America’s premier public health agency has been tightly intertwined Read More >

Posted on by Carmen Villar, MSW, Center for Global Health Deputy Director for Policy and CommunicationsLeave a comment

Keeping Kids Healthy in Sierra Leone

Even before the recent Ebola outbreak, the lack of quality healthcare was a major challenge in Sierra Leone, leading to the country suffering some of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world. When a major outbreak strikes, overburdened health systems struggle to take care of other critical health issues, like making sure Read More >

Posted on by Regan Rickert-Hartman and Tushar SinghLeave a comment

Rotary and CDC – Partners in Polio and Beyond

Partnerships play an integral role in CDC’s international work. Eradication and elimination initiatives for vaccine-preventable diseases serve as examples underlining the importance of public-private partnerships. Global polio eradication has been and remains a top priority for CDC. It would be only the second time in history that a human disease has been eradicated, and partners Read More >

Posted on by W. William Schluter, MD, MSPH, Director, Global Immunization DivisionLeave a commentTags , , , ,

Media Dialogues: Cultivating a Conducive Tobacco-Control Environment In Cameroon

The author, Caleb Ayong

As the communications officer for the Cameroonian Coalition for Tobacco Control (C3T), I know the importance of educating journalists and guiding them to use factually accurate information from trustworthy sources. If this does not happen, they could obtain distorted information and pass it on to the public. C3T has held media dialogues with journalists for a couple of years now. Because of the opportunities these events present to build the capacity of the media to report accurately on tobacco control, we have organized three media dialogues in 2017, with more scheduled in several regions of the country in the months ahead.  Read More >

Posted on by CALEB I. AYONG, Communications Officer, Cameroonian Coalition to Counter Tobacco (C3T)Leave a commentTags , , ,

Transforming Hypertension Treatment in Barbados

A blood pressure screening in Barbados.

While being a physician is certainly important to me, first and foremost I consider myself a native of Barbados. The people of Barbados are unique, but they share a commonality with citizens of many other countries: they struggle with a high burden of hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, and other risk factors for Read More >

Posted on by Dr. Kenneth Connell, the Preclinical Deputy Dean and a Faculty Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology at the University of the West Indies, Medical Sciences Cave Hill Campus in BarbadosLeave a comment