Director’s Message

The Power to Protect: Getting Ahead of the Next Pandemic

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

CDC stands ready to join the fight against life-threatening epidemics, whenever and wherever they strike.

This year alone, our global health protection work helped contain the spread of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), meningitis in Liberia, Marburg virus in Uganda, and other threats too numerous to list. Thanks to early detection, millions were vaccinated against measles, cholera, and other vaccine-preventable diseases. And we continue to detect new threats – outbreaks that could become the next devastating news headlines if not stopped in time.

The Division of Global Health Protection helps eliminate threats before they spread widely. Our primary mission is to protect Americans and people worldwide from public health threats by working with partners to build capacity, advance research, and respond in times of crisis. We empower countries to eliminate outbreaks abroad, so we don’t have to fight them here at home.

In 2017, our global disease detection programs tracked hundreds of outbreaks, while CDC-trained disease detectives investigated over 550 threats in other countries. Every day, our scientific and technical experts strengthen vital prevention, detection, and emergency response capabilities, even in the most challenging parts of the world. We do this work in close collaboration with other experts from across CDC and through vital U.S. and international partnerships. And we are making incredible progress together with our partners, with significant achievements in our 17 Phase 1 countries in the first two years of the Global Health Security Agenda.

Because the next emergency can arrive on our doorstep any moment, our work to fight epidemics must continue forward – even in the absence of a crisis. Investments in global health security are our best chance for heading off a future pandemic and protecting our national wellbeing, both from naturally occurring outbreaks and potential acts of bioterrorism. It’s estimated that a flu pandemic that reaches our country could cost the U.S. as many as 200,000 lives and over 60 billion dollars – and even outbreaks in other countries put us at risk and threaten our economic stability by disrupting travel and trade.

As the world continues to mark the road ahead for global health security, we can look closely at the accomplishments highlighted in this report to see how CDC is making a difference. Through strong partnerships around the world, we truly have the power to protect America.


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