A Role for Everyone in Response to Global Health Threats
As the largest Ebola outbreak in history continues to ravage West Africa, the spread of the disease poses a major threat to human health and economies around the globe.
Today, a person can travel nearly anywhere in the world within 24 hours. That’s an amazing development of the modern age, but one posing significant challenges. That type of travel accessibility, for instance, means that a disease outbreak like Ebola or MERS is just one plane ride away from the United States. So, in essence, a health threat anywhere can quickly become a health threat everywhere.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based here in Atlanta, is the one government agency that has primary responsibility for protecting our health security and safeguarding our nation against dangerous health threats—whether those threats originate in the United States or abroad.
The CDC Foundation was created by Congress as an independent, nonprofit organization nearly 20 years ago to connect CDC with private-sector organizations and individuals to build public health programs that make our world healthier and safer.
The Foundation is currently supporting CDC’s response efforts to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden has emphasized the seriousness of the current outbreak, calling it the most complex outbreak in the history of Ebola. CDC has deployed 70 staff members and officers from the agency’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) to the affected countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Commonly known as disease detectives, EIS officers are prepared to travel to any corner of the world at a moment’s notice to assist with disease control and prevention efforts. The epidemiological work of EIS officers involves outbreak investigation, surveillance and management.
Greg, a U.S. Public Health Service officer and disease detective, was recently deployed to Africa for the third time during his service at CDC. “Being safe and careful are guiding principles of our mission to stop the spread of Ebola,” he said in his profile on CDC’s website. “My short-term goal is to help do the basics of public health epidemiology—preventing the spread through contact tracing—with the long-term goal of ending the outbreak. It will happen, but only through painstaking hard work.”
We at the CDC Foundation have recently put into action a way for our organization and our donors to get involved and support the work of the brave women and men of CDC who are involved in the Ebola response. We are providing critical assistance and materials to CDC through donations made to the CDC Foundation’s Global Disaster Response Fund, which enables CDC staff to respond quickly to changing circumstances and needs.
Among the immediate needs are personal protective equipment for all people in contact with patients with Ebola virus disease; communications equipment for staff in the field; equipment to establish and run emergency operations centers in each country; and support for health communication campaigns to reach affected populations. Of course, there will be unanticipated needs as well in the response to this epidemic. Funds donated to the CDC Foundation can be deployed and put to work where needed with CDC and its partners.
Ongoing support will be key to successfully managing Ebola in West Africa. Supporting CDC’s life-saving work through a donation to the CDC Foundation helps the agency in its real-time response to the current outbreak while enhancing disease surveillance and response in these countries going forward.
Join us to help stop the Ebola outbreak.