Protecting your home and community

CDC Office of Preparedness Announces International Partnerships

A photo of A child receiving an injectionThe CDC and the Departments of State, Agriculture and Defense announced last week a $40 million expansion of an international partnership program. The program, which will add 10 countries to the existing pilot program with Vietnam and Uganda. Those programs enhanced the communications and information systems for outbreak response, strengthened the public health laboratory system, and develop a public health emergency operations center (EOC). The announcement came in context of an international meeting on improving nations’ capacities to deal with global disease threats.

On February 13, 2014,  representatives from federal agencies and 26 nations launched an international effort that will help to boost the global capacity to prevent, detect and respond to disease outbreaks. Representatives from three international organizations in Washington and Geneva, including the World Health Organization, attended, along with officials from the departments of State, Defense and Agriculture, and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Laura Holgate, senior director for weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and threat reduction at the National Security Council, said, “With the Global Health Security agreement, we’re talking about making the world safer and more secure by strengthening our ability as an international community to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks.

A photo of a plane

Photo Credit: Andrew Thomas

Such diseases include Ebola and other hemorrhagic illnesses; flu; dengue fever; Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS; severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS; and other infectious diseases that arise in nature or that are accidentally or intentionally released, she added.

In 2007, most countries agreed to abide by updated International Health Regulations, or IHR, adopted two years earlier at the 58th World Health Assembly. The legally binding rules accepted country by country had been revised specifically to help in containing diseases that potentially could spread quickly worldwide.

The WHO set a five-year deadline for countries to ensure their national capacities to identify, investigate, assess and respond to such public health events.

“In 2012, we were struck by the reality that 80 percent of the [IHR] countries did not meet the WHO deadline to be prepared for these threats,” Holgate said. “We looked around the world and said, ‘This is not something the United States can do alone.’”

In an editorial on CNN, Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that, “diseases don’t respect borders,” and that ‘foreign’ diseases are now domestic threats.” He said, in order to prevent widespread outbreak of known and emerging infectious diseases, the international community needs to take three serious steps:

  • Prevent avoidable catastrophes and epidemics. We can only do this if we have strong systems, policies, and procedures in place in each country.
  • Detect threats early. This requires real-time disease tracking and effective diagnostics, as well as the ability to identify and collect outbreak specimens and safely and securely transport them to accredited laboratories.
  • Respond rapidly and effectively. We do this best when we have interconnected emergency operations centers and response capacity ready to spring into action.
A micrograph of an Ebola virus

A micrograph of an Ebola virus

To find out more about the CDC’s role in the International Global Health Security Project, go here.

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