The deadly Ebola virus has struck again in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with more than 100 cases reported by the World Health Organization since the latest flare-up on August 1. Cases to date include more than 75 deaths in the North Kivu province of DRC, an active conflict zone near the border of Uganda and Rwanda where more than 1 million displaced people are located. This recent Ebola outbreak occurred soon after the Ministry of Health declared the end of an outbreak in DRC’s Equateur Province in the far western part of the country.
A recent Washington Times interview with CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield reminds us that DRC’s latest Ebola outbreak calls for long-term investment in the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). The GHSA currently includes more than 50 countries committed to create a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats and elevate global health security as a national and global priority. Through GHSA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Center for Global Health is working directly with 17 countries to accelerate each country’s ability to prevent, detect and respond to dangerous health threats that affect us all.
The good news is that the world’s investment in GHSA over the past few years has led to significant strides in global health protection. However, we know that many countries’ systems are at risk if we remain dependent solely on public sector funding. Multi-sector support is vital to maintaining and building upon global health security investments in a timely manner that are essential for responding to current and future outbreaks.
To that end, the CDC Foundation has joined with CDC’s Center for Global Health and other partners to extend the reach and leverage the impact of CDC’s disease-specific and cross-cutting investments to sustain global health security efforts in seven countries, including DRC, as well as Haiti, India, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Vietnam. A major goal is to develop public-private partnership strategies in collaboration with Ministries of Health in these countries, as well as with CDC country offices, to support each country’s most urgent health needs and opportunities.
For instance, tuberculosis (TB) is the world top infectious disease killer and a serious health threat across these seven countries. Recent models show that unless efforts are scaled up to address TB, which is a high burden disease in 22 countries, the number of people dying from drug-resistant TB will nearly double every five years.
While CDC is at the forefront of innovation in the global fight against TB, multi-sector support is urgently needed to successfully end TB. The CDC Foundation is pleased that TB will be a focus at the United Nations General Assembly on September 26, when the UN’s first-ever high-level meeting on TB will be held. This meeting provides an incredible opportunity to highlight the challenge of TB and take steps to strengthen action to address this growing health threat.
There are many more examples of how we can join together to fight global health threats. For instance, CDC’s Center for Global Health country priorities include support for a national public health reference laboratory and influenza preparedness in Vietnam, prevention of antimicrobial resistance in India and improved infectious disease surveillance systems in Haiti.
In today’s interconnected world, diseases can spread from an isolated, rural village to any major U.S. city in as little as 36 hours. We cannot effectively protect health at home without addressing infectious diseases around the world.