Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC Director provides remarks during EIS International Night - Atlanta, GA, April 2012
On April 18th, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia over 350 epidemiologists, scientists, academics, physicians, and a consortium of other public health professionals from around the world gathered for International Night 2012 and what many consider the highlight of the 61st Annual Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Conference. During his remarks, Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said, “The EIS conference and especially this night is one of my absolute favorite times of the year.” Co-hosted by CDC’s Division of Public Health Systems and Workforce Development in partnership with the Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET), International Night 2012 featured oral and poster presentations from 17 countries, as well as the launch of the first EIS International Night Photo Contest featuring the work of FETP residents in action around the world.
Thanks very much to all of you for your work and for coming and for your commitment to public health and to improving the lives of people around the world. I'm-- sorry that I can't be here for the whole session. I am literally coming from the airport. I was in Kentucky today, Haiti yesterday, the day before, Washington tomorrow and Iowa on Friday. The stewardess from Delta said to me the other day, you know Dr. Frieden you fly Delta more than I fly Delta. But really the EIS conference and especially this night is one of my absolute favorite times of the year. It's so inspiring to come together and to be able to exchange with each other what we're learning. In public health, in epidemiology, at CDC and throughout the US and throughout the world, we do have one core value and we have one core method. Our core value is improving health and it's that simple. Our core method is using data to improve performance and that really is what our work is about. The work of TEPHINET, the work of FETPs around the world is incredibly important and it's inspiring and it's growing the ground of data and fact on which we all stand. And it's also not only improving health in individual countries but knitting us together more as one world where we need to learn from each other, we need to exchange information, we need to identify areas for progress, and we need to figure out how we can make the biggest difference possible. So, I think, that CDC does a lot of fantastic work around the world. We're in more than 50 countries now with a very broad portfolio ranging from HIV to birth defects, from tuberculosis to malaria, to non communicable diseases, to outbreak investigations, and many, many, many other areas but that core of making information known through the laboratory, through epidemiology, through disseminating information to those who need to know is incredibly important. And I think we ought really are at a key moment in global health because we've made significant progress in recent years. And now we're faced with fiscal challenges. We're faced with the continued emergence and spread of drug resistance. We're faced with the continued increase in non communicable diseases but fundamentally we're going to have tremendous progress because of that commitment on improving health and seeing the lives and faces behind the numbers and on using information to drive progress because that's the most important thing we can do. If we can establish systems that track information and feed that information back to the people who can make decisions, then not only can we improve health in a specific time but we establish a self correcting system that's going to continuously improve health because no program, no project, no person is ever perfect. But any program, any project, any person can always get more effective, better, more effectively connected and we have some critical challenges going forward. We must get over the finish line in polio eradication. Future generations will look back and judge us on whether or not we did this. And we have a long way to go particularly in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan but the world collaboratively is committed to doing as much as we can. And for those of you working in this area, for the rest of your careers, you'll look back on this as an incredibly important time. We also have continued challenges with the big killers of HIV, TB, and malaria and the opportunity to do even more with less resources. We also have a broad range of other infectious and emerging diseases and unknown territory in areas like healthcare associated infections in so many parts of the world and the ability to make huge differences in the neglected tropical diseases. And the coming challenge of dealing with the non communicable diseases.We do have our challenges cut out and information won't always change the world but it's very hard to change the world without it. So thank you all for the great work that you do and I look forward to reading more about it and working with you in the months and years to come. Thank you very much.