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Getting Ahead of the Next Pandemic: Is the World Ready?

  • Published: 2017-10-28 : Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (cdc.gov).
  • Synopsis: The world is more interconnected than ever, emerging diseases continually threaten health, and drug resistance continues to grow.

Main Document

Quote: "From meningococcal disease in Liberia to yellow fever in Uganda, outbreaks can be contained and pandemics prevented when countries have these core capabilities in place."

When a deadly mystery illness was detected in Liberia in April 2017, first responders were on the ground within 24 hours. Through the Ministry of Health's quick action and collaboration with global partners, the cause of the outbreak was identified as meningococcal disease and contained with only 31 cases and 13 deaths. In stark contrast, when Ebola struck Liberia just three years ago, it took the country months to mount an effective response; thousands of lives were lost as responders raced to control the growing epidemic.

The difference between these two outbreaks is just one example of the progress made since 2014 to advance the Global Health Security Agenda's (GHSA) goal to strengthen countries' response capacities. GHSA is a global effort to save lives and reduce the impact of disease threats -- whether naturally occurring or manmade -- by stopping them at their source.

A new article released today in CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) journal details early results of CDC's global health security work through collaboration with 17 partner countries. Implementing the Global Health Security Agenda in 17 Countries: Contributions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows how CDC is accelerating progress toward a world more prepared for public health threats. Part of EID's new Global Health Security Supplement, the article outlines CDC-supported progress during the first two years of GHSA implementation.

With supplemental funding from the U.S. Government of $582 million over five years (FY 2015 -- 2019), CDC is supporting Liberia and 16 other GHSA countries in strengthening core public health systems to rapidly detect, respond, and prevent the spread of disease and limit the impact of outbreaks on families, communities, and whole economies. These efforts include strengthening:

"These core areas are a platform for a functioning public health system in any country and are critical for effective disease detection and response," said Rebecca Bunnell, Ph.D., deputy director for science, policy, and communication in CDC's Division of Global Health Protection and senior author of the article. "From meningococcal disease in Liberia to yellow fever in Uganda, outbreaks can be contained and pandemics prevented when countries have these core capabilities in place."

A Timely Look at Progress Toward GHSA Milestones

This week, GHSA partner countries, including the United States, meet in Kampala, Uganda, for the 4th High Level GHSA Ministerial Meeting to discuss sustaining and extending these critical efforts.

"In a world more interconnected than ever -- where emerging diseases continually threaten people's health and drug resistance continues to grow -- ensuring the safety and security of all people requires strong, diverse partnerships and a global commitment to GHSA beyond 2018," said Rebecca Martin, Ph.D., director of CDC's Center for Global Health.

The CDC report describes progress to meet GHSA milestones and concludes that, overall, GHSA partner countries (Phase I) were successful in expanding their capacity for combating public health threats. The analysis found more than 675 advancements across the 17 countries as a result of CDC's GHSA work, including these:

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