Rapid Response to Outbreaks Through CDC’s Investment in Global Health Security
Outbreaks around the world have been detected and stopped more rapidly than ever before through CDC’s investment in global health security.
Reductions in response time are seen in partner countries like Liberia. Since 2015, CDC has collaborated with Liberia’s Ministry of Health to put in place a network of sub-national emergency operation centers and staff trained through CDC’s Public Health Emergencies Management (PHEM) Fellowship. During a public health event, this infrastructure can be stood up to coordinate a public health response. CDC has also worked with the ministry of health to improve specimen transport systems and laboratory diagnostic capacities, allowing for suspected cases to be confirmed sooner than was possible before.
These dedicated efforts were put to the test during a 2017 outbreak of an unconfirmed pathogen. The ministry of health mounted an emergency response in less than 24 hours – a striking improvement compared to the more than 90 days it took to respond when Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was detected in the country in 2014. The pathogen was accurately identified as meningitis and the ministry of health contained the outbreak to just 31 cases and avoided the catastrophic consequences of further transmission. The improvement in emergency response time demonstrates the progress that Liberia has made as a result of CDC-supported efforts.
Additional Examples of Rapid Response Through CDC’s Investment:
EVD Preparedness Pays Off
Ugandans knew they had to get ready for the worst when neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reported a new EVD outbreak on August 1, 2018. Uganda’s Ministry of Health (MOH) activated the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC) and began preparedness activities. CDC-supported global health security investments and efforts in Uganda have dramatically helped the country reduce the time it takes to detect and respond to outbreaks. CDC has been supporting the MOH and its implementing partner, the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), to map routes traveled between DRC and Uganda, and points of interest within Uganda visited by Congolese, including healthcare facilities like Kagando Hospital. Additionally, in April 2019, the MOH, CDC, and other partners held a nationwide EVD outbreak simulation exercise. When the first case of EVD associated with the recent DRC outbreak was detected in Uganda in June 2019, the MOH was able to stand up a response that held the number of confirmed cases to three – all of which were imported from DRC had not resulted from circulation within Uganda.
Event-based Surveillance in Burkina Faso
In 2017, CDC launched an event-based surveillance (EBS) program in Burkina Faso that supported three district health teams, 210 assistant nurses and chief nurses, and 935 community health workers. The EBS system was put to the test when more than 200 donkeys died of unexplained illness across the country between late 2018 and early 2019. Through effective field investigations, a team of key partners – including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Animal and Fisheries Resources and CDC – determined two different causes for the unexplained illnesses. One cause was strangles, an infectious respiratory disease of donkeys, horses, and mules, and the other was anthrax, a serious bacterial disease that can cause death in humans. Burkina Faso’s rapid response introduced control measures that prevented the loss of more livestock and the spread of disease from animal to human.