Global Health Priorities

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We must remain
vigilant and prepared to identify and respond to
new, known, and unknown global health threats. History, current data, and trends tell us these are likely to occur, whether these threats are natural or man-made.
Dr. Rebecca Martin Director, Center for Global Health U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Working 24/7 TO PROTECT
Americans from Global Health Threats

With the increasing frequency of international travel, the globalization of food supplies and medicine, and a rapidly expanding world population, it is more important than ever for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Center for Global Health (CGH), to work 24/7 around the world to stop disease threats before they reach American borders.
As the ease of air travel and mobility of people increases, the risk of global health threats reaching American borders and destabilizing the health, security, and economy of the United States rises. Global disease threats can have an impact on American business interests at home and abroad. CDC scientists, disease detectives, laboratory technicians, and other experts are on the frontlines in more than 60 countries, working to detect disease outbreaks at the earliest possible moment, to respond to them decisively, and to stop them from spreading. That mission is driven by the same methods CDC uses wherever it works – rigorous science, accurate data, quality training, and strong collaboration with partners.

Since 2006, CDC and its partners have responded to
>2,000 disease
outbreaks around the world.
By ensuring that countries have the capability to prevent, detect, and respond to threats within their borders, CDC helps prevent regional and global health crises. CDC actively tracks approximately 40 global health threats each day, and since 2006, CDC and its partners have responded to more than 2,000 disease outbreaks around the world. The knowledge and lessons learned from CDC’s work abroad are critical to our public health efforts at home, and to protect Americans. Global health security is national and economic security for the U.S. CDC is protecting the health and quality of life of people in the United States and around the world. Most recently, CDC led historic responses to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the Zika epidemic in North and South America.

Addressing global health threats can require visiting dangerous places. This CDC staff member is getting help with his protective suit and face mask before entering an Ebola treatment unit in Liberia.

Fighting Zika At Home and Abroad
On January 22, 2016, CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center to respond to Zika virus, a complex and rapidly spreading outbreak of a disease that results in significant birth defects and other serious health issues. It is a new challenge to control the spread of an often asymptomatic infectious disease whose outcomes are not fully understood. Zika virus is the first mosquito-transmitted disease that has been found to cause birth defects.
CDC works extensively with local and international partners, including more than 21 countries, to simultaneously prevent, detect, and control the spread of Zika at home and abroad, and to develop a deeper understanding of this virus. CDC scientists are tracking mosquitos for possible insecticide resistance and developing new tools to fight them. They are improving new diagnostic tests, increasing capacity in vector management, training affected countries in effective risk communication, developing novel Zika prevention and detection methods, and conducting studies to predict the longterm consequences of Zika on affected countries and at-risk populations, including in the United States.
The knowledge gained through this work is protecting Americans at home and abroad through improved laboratory testing and diagnostic tools, new mosquito control strategies, and improved Zika-related health services for mothers and children.

Working on the Frontlines of the Ebola Outbreak

In March of 2014, West Africa experienced the largest outbreak of Ebola in history. CDC launched a large scale, historic response. With more than 1,200 staff deployed to West Africa over the course of two years, and more than 3,000 staff working on the response in the United States and globally, CDC and partners worked to contain the epidemic at its source and to rapidly respond to any imported or domestic cases.

Numerous CDC staff stepped forward to fight this deadly disease, from scientists and statisticians to public health advisors and health communication specialists. Thousands more worked on the response from the CDC's headquarters in Atlanta, other areas in the United States, and countries around the world. CDC experts relied on their resourcefulness and innovation to combat the epidemic and to protect the public's health.


CDC works 24/7 to prevent diseases, detect threats early, and respond rapidly to emerging health threats, such as Zika and Ebola, to save lives and keep America healthy, safe, and secure.


Responding to Global Health Emergencies

CDC's Global Rapid Response Team (GRRT), established in 2015, ensures that from a pool of 400 trained experts, 50 are on call to travel anywhere in the world within 48 hours to confront an outbreak at its outset. The GRRT was mobilized more than 230 times and provided 8,000 person-days of response support in more

than 90 outbreaks worldwide in only one year after it was created in 2016, including cholera, yellow fever, Ebola, Zika, measles, polio, and natural disasters. The GRRT also has experts in global health logistics, laboratory management and training, communication, and disease detection.

CDC staff often have to travel through challenging conditions to reach their destination. Here a CDC cholera investigation team is crossing a river to get to a community in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016.

Since it was established in 2015, the Global Rapid Response Team (GRRT) has:

CDC is working 24/7 to fight health threats. This member of CDC's Global Rapid Response Team is checking biological samples before sending them for laboratory testing.
GRRT sprung into action in response to Hurricane Matthew, which made landfall on October 4, 2016 near Les Anglais, Haiti as a Category 4 storm. When CDC’s first wave of GRRT deployers arrived in Haiti on October 6th, the extent of the disaster, which claimed the lives of at least 546 Haitians and left an estimated 1.4 million people in need of assistance, was just emerging. The team focused on conducting cholera case investigations and rapid assessments of healthcare facilities, as well as supporting the Haiti Ministry of Health to reestablish surveillance systems disrupted by the storm. The GRRT mobilized rapidly to provide essential boots-on-the-ground support during this global emergency, building on previous CDC work done in the country.

Supported responses in
27 countries
9,598 person-days
of response
in more than
90 outbreaks


CDC’s Global Rapid Response Team (GRRT) is a highly-trained group of experts who can deploy anywhere in the world within 48 hours to respond to a public health crisis or emergency.


Across the Globe

Central Pillars of Global Response

CDC’s global work is devoted to putting in place the tools and practices necessary to identify, stop, and control outbreaks at the earliest possible moment in countries throughout the world. The central pillars of CDC's strategy are quality disease surveillance, a well-trained workforce, rapid and accurate public health laboratory capacity, and emergency response via emergency operation centers (EOCs) - information and decision-making hubs. In addition, CDC conducts real-time, “on the ground” operations research and evaluation of what works to optimize lifesaving programs and services.

The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) is a systematic effort to provide universal and tested standards to prevent, detect, and respond to disease outbreaks worldwide. As part of GHSA, every member country is committed to having a public health emergency management system that functions according to common standards, operated by staff that includes a rapid response team and access to real-time surveillance, laboratory networks, and information systems. These standards allow country-based EOCs to activate a coordinated emergency response within several hours of identifying a public health emergency.

(2006 - 2016)

Global Disease Detectives
The first step in fighting or containing a disease is identifying what it is, its source, and its location. The Global Disease Detection (GDD) program is CDC’s principal and most comprehensive program for helping partner countries better detect, identify, and contain emerging infectious diseases.
This is accomplished through state-of-the-art GDD Centers in different regions of the world that serve as hubs and data-gathering centers. GDD centers work closely with scientists and experts at CDC and with host countries on six core capacities, including emerging infectious disease detection and response, training in field epidemiology and laboratory methods, health communication, and laboratory systems and biosafety.
The GDD program trains local scientists, provides diagnostic and epidemiologic resources when outbreaks occur, serves as a platform for regional infectious disease control activities, conducts emerging infectious disease research of global importance, and disseminates proven public health tools. GDD experts have been involved in high-profile public health events such as Ebola, polio eradication, MERS-CoV, cholera, and Nipah virus. GDD staff have responded to over 2,000 disease outbreaks and public health emergencies between 2006–2016. Since 2005 CDC’s GDDs have discovered 12 pathogens that were identified for the first time anywhere in the world.

GDD Centers help countries build core capacities in support of the International Health Regulations
and Global Health Security
New diagnostic tests in 59 countries, which improved disease detection capability and accelerated response interventions
Countries received outbreak response, laboratory, and surveillance support from GDD Centers

Training a Ready Global Workforce

CDC’s Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) prepares a global workforce composed of local field epidemiologists and laboratories from communities across the globe. These “disease detectives” collect, analyze, and interpret public health data and turn it into action. The FETP workforce are our “boots-on-the-ground” in the ongoing battle against infectious diseases, environmental hazards, and other health threats. FETP training focuses on “learning by doing,” with residents spending over 75 percent of their time in the field investigating outbreaks, conducting studies, and training others in their countries.

The goal of FETP is to foster investments today to build the global public health workforce needed to respond to the crises of tomorrow. The FETP program has trained more than 9,000 graduates across three types of programs (advanced, intermediate, and frontline) in 70 countries. Significantly, more than 80 percent of the graduates continue working in their countries with many moving into public health leadership positions. Between 2009–2014, FETP graduates took part in more than 2,000 outbreak investigations, which kept their countries and the world safer and healthier.

CDC's Field Epidemiology Training Program trains health workers, including those in Sierra Leone (pictured here), on how to investigate health threats wherever they occur.


CDC helps countries prevent, detect and respond to diseases and outbreaks. CDC’s disease detection work and training programs provide countries with the tools and expertise needed to monitor and respond to health threats. The Global Health Security Agenda is the framework through which global standards are achieved and upheld.

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Global Health Priorities