On the Scene: A Commitment to Emergency Response

Our world today is affected by many front-page crises, from refugees in Syria and its neighboring countries to Zika virus in the Americas. And while these are happening, we must quickly respond to other outbreaks and natural disasters and help with recovery in areas devastated by war and disease.

It’s rewarding work, but difficult – our responders are often first on the ground to help with emergencies, sometimes venturing into dangerous and uncertain situations. We embrace the unknown, sharing our expertise while continuing to learn more as we confront the world’s most urgent health problems. It’s a mission that is close to our hearts.

From the beginning of a crisis, response teams spring into action. As events unfold, we answer countries’ needs with experts in health, nutrition, infectious diseases, mental health, reproductive health, surveillance, coordination and logistics, and water, sanitation, and hygiene. We are also there afterward to support recovery of public health systems, working closely with countries and partners to put the pieces back together so that countries can withstand and better respond to the unexpected.

At times, the task can seem overwhelming. But the importance of this work cannot be underestimated. Not only is it the right thing to do, but the relationships and systems we build during emergencies can help protect us all in the future. In this issue of Updates from the Field, you will read personal stories from responders working in extraordinary circumstances. From setting up surveillance systems in refugee camps, to developing mass immunization campaigns, to improving care for mothers and babies, to evaluating mental health in post-conflict settings, we are on the scene.

Former Director, Division of Global Health Protection
Center for Global Health, CDC