Global Emergency Alert and Response Service (GEARS)

Detects and Responds to Public Health Threats Worldwide

After Cyclone Idai, a community hygiene promoter educates displaced people in Malawi about cholera prevention.

After Cyclone Idai, a community hygiene promoter educates displaced people in Malawi about cholera prevention, including the importance of using safe water, proper handwashing, and sanitation, as well as what to do if they become ill. Photo: Anangu Rajasingham

When infectious disease outbreaks or other health threats occur, having timely and accurate information and well-trained responders on the ground saves lives. The Global Emergency Alert and Response Service (GEARS) in the Division of Global Health Protection (DGHP) combines the critical functions of the Global Disease Detection Operations Center (GDDOC) and the Global Rapid Response Team (GRRT) into a “one stop shop” that allows for a seamless transition between disease detection and response activities.

How GEARS Works

GDDOC disease detection specialists work 24/7 using event-based public health surveillance to track health threats across the globe and gather information for public health experts to quickly respond to outbreaks before they become pandemics. On any given day, a diverse team of CDC staff, including medical epidemiologists, data analysts, and zoonotic disease experts in the GDDOC daily monitor between 30-40 different public health threats globally.

Drawing from more than 536 rostered responders from across the agency, GRRT deploys CDC experts within 72 hours of international and domestic emergencies. GRRT responders receive all trainings, passports, and medical clearances needed to be able to rapidly deploy.

GRRT provides surge capacity through a pool of trained CDC responders with varied expertise including emergency response, partner coordination, epidemiology, field logistics, laboratory, management, rapid assessment, risk communication, and surveillance. GRRT also works with countries to build their disease response capacity by helping to establish in-country rapid response teams and emergency operations centers.

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1,800 events, of which 1,200 were of international importance, including

pathogen


189 diseases
in over

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240 countries and territories

Our Impact

Since its inception in 2007, GDDOC has reported more than 1,800 events (of which, over 1,200 were of international importance) including 189 different diseases in over 240 countries and territories.

It also coordinates and supports many of CDC’s international outbreak response operations and trains partner countries to establish and use event-based surveillance systems. GDDOC serves as CDC’s representative on the Steering Committee for the WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN).

GOARN is a network of technical institutions and organizations that rapidly deploys experts to countries affected by public health crises.

Since 2015, GRRT has supported public health emergency responses in more than 113 locations (62 countries, 43 states, and 8 other locations). Examples include the Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Zika response in the Caribbean, and the domestic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. GRRT proves that a capable, sustainable emergency workforce is an essential part of maintaining global health security.

Global Rapid Response Team Deployments, October 2015-December 2021

GRRT Deployments by Location: October 2015 to December 2021
Angola 26
Australia 1
Bahrain 1
Bangladesh 6
Belize 2
Benin 4
Botswana 2
Brazil 5
British Virgin Islands 1
Burkina Faso 12
Cambodia 2
Cameroon 5
Canada 2
Central African Republic 1
China 4
Colombia 14
Congo 1
Congo DRC 115
Cote d’Ivoire 7
Curacao 1
Denmark 2
Djibouti 1
Dominican Republic 3
Ecuador 1
Egypt 1
El Salvador 4
Equatorial Guinea 1
Ethiopia 22
France 7
Gabon 1
Germany 2
Ghana 14
Guatemala 5
Guinea 9
Guyana-Bissau 1
Guyana 2
Haiti 38
Honduras 5
India 3
Indonesia 2
Jamaica 3
Japan 10
Jordan 11
Kazakhstan 1
Kenya 37
Laos 2
Liberia 9
Madagascar 3
Malawi 2
Marshall Islands 3
Mauritania 2
Mexico 1
Micronesia 4
Mongolia 3
Mozambique 17
Myanmar 2
Namibia 2
Nigeria 27
Panama 3
Papua New Guinea 4
Peru 3
Portugal 1
Rwanda 29
Saint Kitts and Nevis 1
Sao Tome and Principe 1
Senegal 6
Sierra Leone 15
Somalia 1
South Sudan 29
Spain 1
Sudan 1
Switzerland 68
Tajikistan 1
Tanzania 14
Thailand 4
Togo 1
Uganda 32
Ukraine 3
United Arab Emirates 1
United Kingdom 3
USA EOC 776
United States 963
Vietnam 9
Zambia 10
Zimbabwe 1
Closing the Gap: Moving Forward

Through the integration of disease detection and response, GEARS is an agency-wide asset that supports CDC’s Emergency Operations Center and enhances CDC’s ability to quickly detect, monitor, and respond to health threats worldwide during an emergency. Each emergency needs varied technical expertise, from surveillance to language to response skills. GEARS will continue to evolve, providing the right people with the right skills at the right time to stop outbreaks at the source.