On Public Health Security - December 2014

2014 Successes

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On Public Health Security
December 2014
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Sonja A. Rasmussen, MD, MS

Dear Partners,

As we move forward into the New Year, I would like to take this moment to reflect on our accomplishments in 2014, especially our response to Ebola both in West Africa and here in the United States. With our partners, we have accomplished so much.

The items below are not inclusive of all our accomplishments this year, but highlight key activities.

2014 Ebola Response

The Office for Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHPR) has led a number of activities in the past year to support the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and to keep the U.S. and the world safe from outbreaks. One of the primary tenets of the GHSA is to respond to outbreaks as rapidly and effectively as possible, such as the Ebola response. Building public health capacity in West African countries is the best way to stop Ebola. We have worked and will continue to support building international Emergency Operations Centers and emergency management capacity. Our international response activities have the dual focus to (1) address the immediate outbreak, and (2) leave behind a more robust public health and emergency management infrastructure.

To bolster the capacity to respond to Ebola cases in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has worked with state and local health officials and hospital representatives to create a hospital network for Ebola patients. To establish this network, CDC deployed experts to assess hospital infection control and overall preparedness to safely care for patients with Ebola. There are currently 40 hospitals serving as Ebola Treatment Centers with the bed capacity to treat 60 Ebola patients across 12 states and the District of Columbia. The creation of the network is a great success and underscores the commitment of so many partners to fight this deadly disease.


This year we have made great strides together – building new partnerships and fostering old ones. PHPR and the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) are collaborating on a pilot project to improve individual community resilience within community-based public health interventions. The objective of this project is to develop and evaluate an educational tool, placing emphasis on public health preparedness, children, and families. This collaboration will aid in the creation of a community resiliency plan for children, youth, and families that will be integrated into the Y’s National Training Network. It will be used by local Ys and other community based organizations to effectively respond to youth and family needs during a public health emergency. The project also aims to increase the number of youth who understand the science of hazards and are knowledgeable about and able to take preparedness action by implementing the American Red Cross’s Pillowcase Project in Y-USA summer camps.


This year has been remarkable for Operation Dragon Fire (ODF), an innovative data sharing initiative. ODF promises to transform the way in which emergency responders receive and aggregate the overwhelming amount of public health information and data potentially available from a wide range of sources including social media before, during, and after an emergency event. This initiative would provide a safe means to exchange information that is timely and relevant for response agencies and partners to make more informed decisions that will ultimately save lives. ODF kicked off nationally this summer with a well-attended, information-rich exchange of perspectives and ideas across partners. Also this year, the White House invited ODF representatives to the White House Technology Innovation Summit. Three work groups were established: Governance, Technical and Functional, and Partnership Development and Communications. An Executive Steering Committee of stakeholders also exists with representation from prominent leaders affected by this challenge. A design meeting in New York City is planned for early 2015 to provide partners an opportunity to test the concept of ODF and its potential value to the emergency response community during a hurricane event.

This year has been filled with great achievements due to the work that we have completed together. Working with you on the Ebola response and, more generally, to make progress in each of these priorities listed above is an honor and a privilege. There is not enough space to name each and every one of our partners and the work that we have accomplished. Through our collaborations, we will continue to detect threats early, respond effectively, and prevent future outbreaks. Thank you for your lasting dedication and support. I look forward to continuing our work together in the New Year.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season,

Sonja A. Rasmussen, MD, MS
Acting Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Noteworthy Updates

Partnerships Ebola Website

Visit the new Partnerships Ebola website to get the latest Ebola updates and information for partners.

So What? Telling a Compelling Story

Do you have a good story to share with the PHPR Partnerships Team? Please use our story submission form to let us know about it.

Additional Resources

Visit the new Ebola Community Education Tool Kit to find cleared factsheets, infographics, presentations, and other useful resources for sharing information with communities about Ebola.

A Day in the Life

Want to know how public health staff gets to where they need to be during an emergency response? Read about a Day in the Life of Patricia Doggett, who gets CDC staff to locations all over the world, for incidents ranging from hurricanes to the Ebola response in West Africa.

Preparedness Tool

The National Health Security Preparedness Index™ provides a fresh way to measure and advance the nation’s readiness to respond to large scale emergencies of all kinds. The 2014 Index includes an expanded structure, additional measures, and updated data -- linking 194 measures across six domains to more fully portray the U.S. and states’ preparedness.

Your Opinion Matters

The Office of the Secretary and the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical is requesting comments on “Ethical Considerations and Implications of Public Health Emergency Response with a Focus on the Current Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic.” This Federal Registration Notice seeks public comment on ethical issues concerning quarantine, isolation, and related topics. The comment period ends 5:00 p.m. EST on February, 6, 2015.

Africa United Campaign

CDC Foundation and actor Idris Elba partner with African Soccer Stars and health organizations to launch Africa United Campaign to help fight Ebola. The public education campaign emphasizes the vital role of healthcare workers and features new Ebola prevention communications for West Africa, including ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ and ‘West Africa vs. Ebola’ Public Service Announcements.