Director’s Message: Faster, Better, Smarter

photo of Nancy Knight, MD, Director of Division of Global Health Protection (DGHP)

Since 2013, when the Division of Global Health Protection (DGHP) was established, we’ve held true to our mandate by working with ministries of health and other partners around the world to build country capabilities to prevent, detect, and respond to health threats. We’ve leveraged our resources and built on our strong foundation of global health security work to expand our capacity building efforts to more countries, improve emergency response capabilities, and forge stronger partnerships.

Our leadership, credibility, and long-standing relationships have helped us to make significant strides toward a world safer and more secure from global health threats. We have learned many lessons from the West Africa Ebola epidemic. We’ve strengthened our response capacity by establishing a Global Rapid Response Team (Global RRT) with more than 400 highly trained, multidisciplinary staff ready to deploy anywhere in the world. We’ve expanded our Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETPs), established a multi-level training curriculum, and now have a network of over 10,000 well-trained disease detectives in more than 70 countries. Our Global Disease Detection Operations Center has been monitoring and reporting on more than 30-40 outbreaks daily, and our laboratory experts and country offices have helped discover 11 new pathogens that had never been previously identified in those countries. To ensure that we are staying on track and achieving our health security objectives, DGHP has supported WHO in conducting more than 40 Joint External Evaluations that helped to assess and identify the most urgent gaps in public health systems around the world. More than 70% of those assessments were conducted with CDC participation.

Our investments in many parts of the world such as Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Uganda have proven to be invaluable. These countries, as well as many others, are now able to respond faster and better to recent outbreaks because they have more efficient surveillance and reporting systems, stronger laboratory diagnostics, trained disease detectives, and more coordinated emergency response and management systems.

While we have made incredible gains, we know that there is still much more to be done and we must continue to move forward strategically and creatively to improve global health security. The recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a reminder to all of us that this dangerous pathogen still poses a threat. None of us know when the next pandemic will occur, but what we do know is that we must be prepared for it.

I thank you for your passion and commitment to this work, and hope you will enjoy reading about our successes and impact we are making on global health security. Together we can make a difference for America and the world.

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