Global Health Unit

Mission: Strengthen global health security through epidemiological and laboratory capacity building; strategic partnerships, outreach, and planning; and preparedness for detection, control, prevention, and response to foodborne, waterborne and fungal disease threats.

The Global Health Unit (GHU) coordinates global health activities of the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED) and works to further DFWED’s mission to improve public health globally through the prevention and control of disease, disability, and death caused by foodborne, waterborne, and environmentally transmitted infections. The team works with many external partners and CDC programs to strengthen outbreak detection and surveillance systems.

GHU’s vision is to ensure that all countries have the resources, workforce, and capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to foodborne, waterborne, and fungal disease threats, and ultimately to help achieve global health security.

Global Impact of Diarrheal Diseases

Diarrheal Disease Impact from Contaminated Water

  • Roughly 2 billion people drink from feces-contaminated water sources, which can spread diseases like diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, dysentery, and polio.
  • Approximately 485,000 diarrheal deaths annually are due to these contaminated water sources.

Source: Drinking-water (

Diarrheal Disease from Contaminated Food

  • Consumption of contaminated food causes over 550 million cases of diarrheal disease and 230,000 deaths annually.
  • Children 5 years of age and younger are most commonly affected, accounting for 40% of cases and 125,000 deaths every year.

Source: Food safety (

Where We Work

The map below shows 11 locations, represented in blue, where GHU (as of 2021) has piloted baseline capacity reviews, a component of our Enteric Diseases Toolkit: El Salvador, Sierra Leone, Dubai, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, and Kenya. We also lead and support capacity building activities such as training in other regions.

World map: El Salvador, Sierra Leone, Dubai, Nicaragua Dominican Republic Belize Costa Rica Guatemala Honduras Panama Kenya.