Surveillance Strategy Report — Public Health Surveillance at CDC

Service through Surveillance

Public health surveillance is the cornerstone of public health practice. Surveillance data are crucially important to inform policy changes, guide new program interventions, sharpen public communications, and help agencies assess research investments. Fulfilling our mission to protect the public’s health, CDC invests heavily in supporting surveillance expertise inside and outside the agency. Prompted by the efforts to improve surveillance, a profile of CDC’s work in surveillance was conducted in 2016 to inform CDC policies and future investments in surveillance-related programs and workforce. Findings include:


How we track health problems

CDC surveillance systems fall into four broad categories covering infectious diseases, noninfectious health conditions, both infectious and noninfectious diseases and health conditions, and risk factors and exposures.

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Where surveillance investments go

Surveillance-related grants and funding have increased over time. Nearly one third of CDC extramural grant awards and dollars support surveillance related programs, with the majority of support going to state and local health departments.

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Who focuses on surveillance activities

About one quarter of CDC’s staff conduct surveillance-related activities.

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How science supports our mission

Nearly half of CDC health scientists (45%) and medical officers (50%) work in surveillance-related units, underscoring the importance of CDC’s scientists to the surveillance enterprise.