“Microbes have no respect for borders but today we can detect not only Ebola but other disease threats early if resources are available to meet the needs of the global community,” according to Thomas Frieden, MD Director of the CDC. He was speaking at Aspen Institute’s Public Health Grand Rounds series www.aspeninstitute.org held in Washington D.C on November 17th.
Dr. Frieden commented on CDC’s www.cdc.gov efforts to combat diseases worldwide. First, CDC has provided the largest global response in CDC history with 160 staff working in Africa. CDC has embedded staff into state public health departments to help strengthen systems that are already in place. In addition, CDC and others work very hard with PEPFAR www.pepfar.gov which is the U.S government’s largest component of the U.S President’s Global Initiative.
Dr Frieden explained how the CDC Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/fetp, a two year program is developing highly trained health professionals to do a specialized style of field epidemiology. The program is also helping the Ministries of Health in other countries to accomplish the same training.
To help move forward even faster to prevent global epidemics, in 2014, CDC has actively been working alongside DOD. The agencies received $40 million to fund an initiative to help countries advance prevention and protection programs. For 2015, $45 million has been proposed to go to ten countries.
Dr Frieden added, “In the case of Ebola, there is a long way to go to finding and treating cases since cases are still growing. In West Africa alone, recent cases have exceeded all other recorded Ebola outbreaks. However, as he points out, “There has been progress in tracking the transmission of Ebola and treating the disease, but we are not there yet.”
CDC has plans to prevent global epidemics by upgrading biosecurity, providing more immunizations to go to the worldwide population, improving the surveillance of zoonotic diseases in humans, and conducting more research on preventing antimicrobial resistance.
To detect new viruses and diseases, surveillance needs to be vastly improved. There is a tremendous need to develop up-to-date information systems in order to handle the immense amount of data that is being received today and even more so in the future.
Today, CDC’s Emergency Operations Centers www.cdc.gov/phpr/eoc.htm are working to enable scientists from across the agency to analyze, validate, and efficiently exchange information during public health emergencies and to rapidly connect with emergency response partners worldwide.
As Dr. Frieden explained, “There are several components needed for effective responses to occur during an epidemic that includes establishing more effective incident management systems, setting up more treatment units, providing effective burial support, and helping healthcare systems to cooperate to effectively control infections.”
In the research area, scientists are enthusiastically hoping “Advanced Molecular Detection” (AMD) www.cdc.gov/amd will unlock the technology to enable scientists to truly understand how to detect infections and how they spread. It is hoped that AMD will create a revolution in how laboratory technology can be used to investigate and control epidemic outbreaks now and in the future.