Why global health security matters to U.S.
May 5th, 2014
11:48 AM ET

Why global health security matters to U.S.

By Tom Frieden and Andy Weber, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Tom Frieden (@DrFriedenCDC) is director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Andy Weber (@AndyWeberNCB) is Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs. The views expressed are their own.

The U.S. and the world now face a perfect storm of disease threats. New and virulent pathogens, such as H7N9 avian influenza and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), emerge every year. Diseases respect no borders – a fact reiterated by the confirmation, last week, of the first case of MERS-CoV in the United States.  Pathogens are becoming more resistant to antimicrobial drugs, and the possibility of bioterrorism continues to grow as new technologies make bioengineering cheaper and easier.

During the 2003 SARS outbreak, only eight people in the U.S. became ill and none died, but the six-month global outbreak left nearly 800 people dead worldwide with costs topping $40 billion. A new pandemic could kill millions and cost trillions.

With such threats in mind, we are in Helsinki for the first meeting on the world’s Global Health Security Agenda, a partnership of the United States government and more than 30 international partners to accelerate progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats. As part of this effort, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Defense (DoD) have committed to provide a total of $40 million this year to 12 partner countries to rapidly advance our shared global health security goals. Over the next 5 years, this initiative will enable partner countries to strengthen their ability to prevent, detect, and effectively respond to infectious disease threats and better protect at least 4 billion more people.

After all, we have learned that new, dangerous, and highly mobile microbes – whether created by nature or by intention – can weaken a robust nation and devastate less-prepared countries.  They pose substantial risks to our civilian workers and military personnel around the world, and detract from our ability to help respond when crises arise.

Stopping outbreaks where they start is the most effective and least expensive way to save lives here at home as well as abroad. It’s also the right thing to do. To accomplish this, we are improving how we deliver our programs to better prevent and defend against both naturally occurring diseases and deliberate biological attacks. Working together when appropriate will encourage the best use of our resources to improve the health security of other nations and, by extension, that of the United States.

CDC and DoD share a core mission: strengthening our national and health security. Collaboration between our two agencies has already improved diagnostic tests for plague and other infectious diseases, found better ways to use anthrax vaccines, and reduced the risk that terrorists could access dangerous pathogens around the world. We are also coordinating efforts to build and link global networks to improve real-time disease tracking.

For example, an inexpensive, rapid dipstick test to diagnose plague – similar to a drugstore pregnancy test – was developed by CDC scientists with some fund from DoD. This test, which costs about a dollar to produce and can diagnose plague in 20 minutes, is already in clinical trials in rural Africa. It also eliminates the need to grow massive numbers of plague bacteria in the laboratory, which can be dangerous for lab workers and raises the risk of inadvertent or intentional release of plague. This kind of collaboration saves the lives of patients, protects health workers, strengthens communities, and prevents outbreaks.

The DoD and CDC work together in broad areas to improve global health security, including laboratory science and safety such as field diagnostics such as the plague test, strengthen capacities of nations that lack resources to effectively manage infectious disease threats, and establish effective emergency operations centers. We also closely coordinate with the World Health Organization, whose director general, Dr. Margaret Chan, helped preside over the international launch event of the Global Health Security Agenda.

Our shared Global Health Security Agenda does not stop at disease outbreaks and bioterrorism attacks. All of the work conducted through this CDC-DoD collaboration will help countries develop their own capacities to address health challenges of all types and contribute to their economic development and stability. All countries need strong public health systems, and experience shows that strengthening day-to-day public health programs is the best way for us to deal rapidly and effectively with the inevitable emergencies.

Global health security is an essential investment for the United States and a top priority of the Obama administration. A broad-based, bipartisan coalition recognizes the critical importance of better protecting Americans by strengthening our nation’s global partnerships to increase health security capacity around the world.

The U.S. government and our international partners have an unprecedented opportunity to make the world – and ourselves – stronger and safer through our commitment to closer cooperation on global health issues. Helping other countries protect their own people also means greater security for Americans.


Topics: Uncategorized

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. palintwit

    If a tornado were to rip thru Sarah Palin's trailer park it would do $100,000.00 in improvements.

    May 5, 2014 at 11:55 am | Reply
    • So true

      But if they were double wides with those crappy looking "lean to's" attached, then the figure is closer to $200,000.

      May 5, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  2. Joseph McCarthy

    Part of the problem is that doctors don't make much money in research in comparison to specialties like heart surgery or becoming a neurologist. Let's pay those doctors more. They deserve it. The cost to society is a lot less than those "trillions" in fighting those outbreaks when it's too late.

    May 5, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      I don't think that doctors who do research are motivated by money.
      I had a close friend, much oder than I, whose name is immortal in immunology. He lived in a modest apartment in New York City. Highly cultured, he was socially active without pretense.
      I know that he was driven in his work because of fascination with it.

      May 5, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  3. Timmy Suckle "The Medical Cartel Puppet"

    I kissed my way up to CEO at a health insurance company. Now I take over $1,000,000 of your health care dollars for NO VALUE ADDED to your health care. And that’s just me. Now think about how many other CEOs, VPs, Directors, Managers, etc. are at my company alone. Now multiply that by thousands of others at hundreds of other health insurance companies. From 10 to 25% of your health care dollars go towards administration that adds NO VALUE to your health care. But my company’s PAC dollars will continue to fool you little people into thinking that a single payer system will be bad. Little people like you are so easy to fool. Little people also don’t realize that a single payer system is the ONLY system that would allow little people (as an entire country) to negotiate better health care prices. Little people don’t realize that the Medical Cartels already know that. And that is the reason why the Medical Cartels spend so much PAC money from the hospitals and doctors lobbying against a single payer system. Some little people say that a single payer system would cost you little people more. But if that were true, then wouldn’t the hospitals and doctors WANT that extra money? Yes they would. So why do the Medical Cartels lobby against a single payer system? It’s because the Medical Cartels know it would allow little people to negotiate better health care prices. And that’s what the Medical Cartels are afraid of. Period.
    But us big wigs at insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmacy companies don’t ever need to worry about health care no matter what it costs. We get our health care paid for one way or another by you little people. And we get the little people that work at our companies to contribute to our PACs. And us big wigs say it’s to protect the little peoples’ jobs. But in reality it would be in the little peoples’ best interest to NOT contribute to the PAC. Again, little people are so easily fooled. I won’t ever have to worry about losing my job with so many little people being brain washed by the Medical Cartels’ PAC money. Not only that, the Medical Cartels’ PAC money is used to elect so many republicans that will never allow a single payer system. Republicans have always fought against any meaningful health care reform. But that’s what our Medical Cartels’ PACs pay them for. Politicians can be bought so easily.
    Pretty soon the only people that will be able to afford health care is us big wigs. And that’s the way it should be. We don’t want you little people using up the resources when we need them. And once again, I thank you little people for capping my SS tax at the $117,000 level. Now I only pay 1.17% SS tax and you little people pay 6.2%. Also, thank you for extending my tax breaks. I’m using the extra money on my vacation houses.

    May 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Well put, Timmy. I agree.

      May 5, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  4. too many managers in the healthcare system

    One of the least discussed issues in our healthcare system, is that there are too many managers aka: hospital administrators, sitting at their desks, in huge plush offices, in hospitals all across America, literally "playing" with a mouse in front of their computers, drawing a huge paycheck, and doing NOTHING else, except figuring out new and creative ways to fleece the hard earned taxpayer's money forcibly paid to our government in taxes, and then cleverly siphoned out thru the Medicare game! We need to figure out how to get rid of more than half of them! I am a physician who works in a major hospital in the US. I am disgusted by what I am seeing! Many of these hospital administrators do not even have an MD. They are merely "bean counters" with an MBA, that get paid higher salaries than most doctors, for doing NOTHING. This has been gong on for decades!

    May 5, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Reply
    • ✠RZ✠

      I'd agree with you somewhat on that. Although the field of medicine does require significant organization and administration, getting the real work done must largely be left up to doctors. Government, politics, bureaucracy, corruption, and greed somehow need to be kept in check. Good luck with that.

      May 6, 2014 at 8:20 am | Reply
  5. eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Politics sustainable on area of medicine EUA and World civilized save the world and diseases

    May 6, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  6. wake up America

    Big Pharma has had it all figured out, for decades! There is a very good reason that more than a third of the Ads we see on TV, no matter what channel, are for pharmaceutical drugs. Big Pharma has the money to field these Ad-Nauseum before our eyes! How did they come by such big bucks? By making suckers out of you and me. That's how. Their lobbyists in DC make sure that no laws are passed to curtail the bonanza that has been going on in the sale of drugs, at hugely inflated prices, to hospitals and pharmacies, all across America, that then turn around and bill Uncle Sam, through the Medicare racket! There are cases of 80 year old Americans, who cannot afford to pay even the 10% that they have to pay, for their medications, because the prices are so inflated, so they are forced to drive south to Mexico, just to buy the medications they desperately need, made in questionable ways, but more affordable, just to stay alive! The "drug game" has been sick for a long time, with no medication in sight......... 😦

    May 9, 2014 at 1:40 am | Reply
    • wake up America

      The average cost of a prescription medication, made by a US based drug pharmaceutical company, is 600% higher when sold in the US, than when the exact same prescription medications are sold in third world countries. This is disgusting! Ever heard the term, "because the market will bear it"............ in the case of Big Pharma, "the market" is Medicare tax dollars........ no wonder we ran out of money for Medicare and the additional Obamacare tax had to be taken from our paychecks! Big Pharma has screwed over every single American, and yet, we don't even hear a whimper about it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      May 10, 2014 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  7. Rick McDaniel

    Sooner, or later, someone is going to get their hands on someof the really deadly stuff........and create a world pandemic, with it, being used as a weapon.

    May 10, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  8. Dr.Hasan

    Thanks God we have a Consultat ID managing MERS. With his trial of managment for this virus that show response in many cases

    May 14, 2014 at 5:06 am | Reply
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    May 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Reply
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