Global Health Security, Infectious Disease Control, and a CDC Delegation Trip

On April 7th and 8th, GHC brought a delegation of members to an informative set of meetings at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. The fact that the GHC visit coincided with World Health Day was serendipitous especially given that the theme of the “Day” was vector-borne disease – a primary concern of the CDC. We have come full circle – CDC, founded almost 70 years ago to fight malaria in the US, is now deliberately focusing much of its efforts on the vector-borne diseases once again threatening the US.

The GDC Delegation Group

The GHC Delegation Group

“Global Health Security” is the new (old) catchphrase summing up the importance of fighting infectious disease that knows no borders – the true democratizer. Luckily this means that policymakers are generally willing to invest to keep populations safe (e.g. $45 million request in the President’s FY15 budget  for global health security). As the CDC’s Director Tom Frieden said recently, “Disease eradication is the ultimate in sustainability and equity because it’s forever and for everybody.”

Our visit also made clear the broad range of critical health areas that CDC covers both on the domestic and global health sides of the aisle. A recurring message from CDC staff was the increasing challenge of having to do more with less – appropriations for CDC have not kept pace with their mandate. Additionally, CDC’s ability to consider health concerns in global low resource settings is compromised because of legislative restrictions on the use of funds, even when this work would directly impact related domestic health concerns. A perfect topic for further advocacy by GHC.