On Public Health Security - February 2017 - CDC's Global Mission: Stopping Diseases Wherever They Begin

On Public Health Security - February 2017 - CDC's Global Mission: Stopping Diseases Wherever They Begin

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On Public Health Security
February 2017
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Stephen C. Redd

Dear Partners,


In today’s tightly connected world, a disease can spread from an isolated, rural village to any major city in as little as 36 hours. The most practical and cost-effective way to protect Americans from health threats that begin overseas is to stop diseases early and close to the source.

One way CDC does this is through helping countries strengthen their Emergency Management Programs (EMPs)—working together to improve their ability to prepare for and respond to emergencies. I had the opportunity to personally play a role in this process when I visited Vietnam last August. During my stay, I met with the Director General of the Vietnam General Department of Preventive Medicine, Dr. Tran Dac Phu, as well as Dr. Dan Duc Anh of the Ministry of Health. I reviewed the status of Vietnam’s EMP and provided recommendations and guidance to help the country respond more efficiently to public health emergencies through their Emergency Operations Center (EOC).            

CDC offers unique expertise in public health emergency management to support international partners whether a country’s EOC needs to be built from the ground up or simply needs improvement in some areas. I would like to highlight some of CDC’s work in global preparedness and stress our critical role in keeping Americans safe.

EOCs and Emergency Management Training

Whether located here at CDC Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia or in a small conference room in Yaoundé Cameroon, EOCs are places where highly trained experts monitor information, prepare for known (and unknown) public health threats, and gather when an emergency occurs to exchange information and make decisions quickly. CDC emergency management training—along with the availability of a well-equipped EOC and established processes— can play a big part in a country’s ability to respond to a public health emergency. In addition to providing support and guidance to partner nations in the development of their Emergency Management Programs (EMPs), CDC provides training opportunities for public health response leadership. Our Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) Fellowship invites public health leaders from all over the world to CDC to provide in-depth exposure to public health emergency management and the function and operation of an EOC.

Since the 2013 inaugural class, CDC has trained 53 PHEM Fellows from 28 countries. And the training is already making a difference. For example, when H5N1 flu appeared in Cameroon’s local poultry in May 2016, the country was able to transition into its response structure within 24 hours. Cameroon’s response stopped the outbreak before a single human case occurred, critical since H5N1 flu has been estimated to kill 60% of its victims. The manager and leader of this response stepped into this role just days after returning from CDC’s PHEM Fellowship program. As a result, he was able to apply everything he learned in the program to the field, including how to use an Incident Command System to ensure efficient and appropriate staffing, coordinate across roles, and give clear and consistent messaging. His training, along with the established EOC in Cameroon, were key to the success of this response.

Measuring Gaps and Progress

Another way we help countries strengthen their own emergency management programs is by participating in the Joint External Evaluation process. The Joint External Evaluation process brings together representatives from multiple sectors in different countries to objectively assess and identify the most urgent gaps in public health systems, including gaps in emergency management, around the world. The United States is an active participant in this Alliance for Joint External Evaluation and Country Planning, which also works to promote planning and implementation of efforts to address these gaps. The United States, including the work of CDC, was externally evaluated over five days in May 2016. The results showed that we have effective systems to reduce the impacts of major public health emergencies, but there are improvements to be made in some areas. I encourage you to explore the Joint External Evaluation website and learn more about these evaluation efforts.

CDC’s work abroad is critical to our public health efforts here in the United States to keep Americans safe and healthy. Last month, I was pleased to see that Vietnam had successfully completed a Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment and distributed a national EOC handbook at the national and regional levels, steps forward in ensuring their EMP continues growing stronger. I look forward to your continued partnership in stopping diseases wherever they begin through strengthening EMPs both overseas and at home.


Thank you,


Stephen C. Redd, MD


Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention





The 2017 Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Cooperative Agreement Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is now online. The purpose of this cooperative agreement is to strengthen and enhance the capabilities of the public health and health care systems to respond to evolving threats and other emergencies.

A recent press release highlights program areas that have been added and removed from the 2017 Government Accountability Office (GAO) High Risk List, which seeks to focus attention on problem areas throughout the federal government.



Meet leading professionals and share expertise at the International Crisis and Risk Communication Conference from March 13th-15th in Orlando, Florida.

Register by March 3rd for the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Annual Meeting from March 15th-17th in Arlington, Virginia.

Collaborate and share best practices in emergency management at the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) Mid-Year Emergency Management Policy and Leadership Forum from March 20th-24th in Alexandria, Virginia.

Attend this year’s Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) Annual Conference, with the theme “Scaling New Heights: Health for All”, from March 30th-April 1st in Denver, Colorado.

Attend the Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference from April 18th-20th in Tacoma, Washington.

Register now for the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) 2017 Preparedness Summit entitled “Forces of Change: Capabilities, Innovation, and Partnerships” from April 25th-28th in Atlanta, Georgia.



The Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) e-Learning Course for the Global Health Workforce is a 15-hour course available through CDC TRAIN that provides an introduction to the Technical Guidelines for Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response in the African Region.

CDC’s Public Health Grand Rounds session entitledShifts in Global Health Security: Lessons from Ebola is available online through CDC TRAIN. This course offers continuing education credits.

Health and Disasters: Understanding the International Context is a 4-hour course available through CDC TRAIN.