Message from the Director

CAPT Nancy Knight in uniform seated in chair speaking on stage with blue backdrop at the 2019 Milken Institute Global Conference

As I reflect on the complexities of our ever-changing interconnected world, I am moved by the tremendous progress we have made to build sustainable health systems and create a healthier and safer world for us all. While many examples show our work’s impact, the growth and development of the Nigeria Field Epidemiology Laboratory Program (NFELTP) stands out for me personally. I was part of the CDC team that worked with the Nigeria Ministry of Health and the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) to create this program in 2007; from 2008-2010, I was the CDC Country Director and closely watched NFELTP’s enthusiasm, efforts, and progress. When I returned for the Ebola outbreak response in 2014, I was moved by the ongoing work and dedication of the CDC-trained disease detectives. Many individuals I knew as trainees now were leading critical parts of the response; their efforts quickly stamped out Ebola in Nigeria and prevented cross-border spread.

CDC’s investments in FETPs and other programs are making a difference. Every day, our epidemiologists, veterinarians, statisticians, communicators, and other subject matter experts work tirelessly, providing technical expertise to dozens of countries. Whether fighting the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tackling Zika virus in Brazil, or responding to cholera outbreaks in the aftermath of cyclones in Mozambique, DGHP staff support CDC-trained FETP residents and graduates who are on the frontlines of outbreak response working to keep health threats at bay.

This issue of Updates from the Field  focuses on how we build sustainable health systems side by side with partners, which rely on support from many sources, including communities, decision makers, healthcare workers, and laws. From training world leaders in disease detection and response through the Field Epidemiology Training Program to establishing and strengthening National Public Health Institutes; from integrating public health progress into law to setting up long-lasting disease surveillance systems around the world, our investments to protect the health of Americans and those around the globe are creating self-sustaining advances in global health security.

As you read, I encourage you to notice how sustainability is not just a feature of our work; it is the cornerstone. As pathogens change and adapt, new diseases emerge. As the world becomes increasingly connected, diseases travel faster and farther than ever before. Outbreaks are an ongoing threat that require proactive public health solutions. Sustainable health systems are key to that solution. CDC helps countries today to stop tomorrow’s outbreaks.

Diseases won’t wait and neither will we.

Dr. Knight's signature

CAPT Nancy Knight, MD
Director, Division of Global Health Protection
Center for Global Health