TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

CDC collaborations with other countries may make U.S. safer

The U.S. is safer from infectious disease threats when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention works with other countries, according to an article published on Thursday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

According to the article, pilot programs between the CDC and Vietnam and the CDC and Uganda resulted in improvements in disease detection and response that could serve as a global model for increasing health security. The model would improve outbreak prevention, detection and response.

"The health security of the United States is only as strong as the health security of all nations around the world," Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC, said. "We are all connected by the food we eat, the water we drink, and air we breathe. Stopping outbreaks where they start is the most effective and least costly way to prevent disease and save lives at home and abroad - and it's the right thing to do. Progress in Uganda in less than a year shows how effective strategic investments can be."

During a six-month collaboration, the CDC worked with Vietnam's Ministry of Health and Uganda's Ministry of Health to develop real-time information systems to respond to outbreaks, modernize diagnostic testing for high-risk pathogens and improve emergency operations procedures. The programs resulted in improvements like enabling clinicians to report and track suspected high-risk pathogens by text message, expansion of specimen referral and transportation systems supported by President Obama's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the confirmation of multiple disease outbreaks in Uganda.

The CDC global health security projects meant to demonstrate that efforts to improve surveillance, laboratory and response efforts in Vietnam and Uganda could help the countries meet the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations.

"Uganda and Vietnam have faced unique health challenges," Tom Kenyon, the CDC's director for global health, said. "Uganda has experienced Ebola, Marburg, cholera and (multi-drug-resistant)-TB outbreaks, and Vietnam has experienced SARS and H5N1 outbreaks. Their success at rapidly adding new disease detection and response skills suggests that similar efforts could work for other countries. This is important in a world that regularly sees new pathogens, such as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus and H7N9 influenza."