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US Needs to Team Up With Other Nations to Increase Global Health Security: CDC

Jan 31, 2014 12:36 PM EST

Global health security may be improved by the United States teaming up with foreign nations, a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states.

As evidence, the agency points to collaborations with both Uganda and Vietnam, which it says has led to improvements in disease detection and response.

The CDC worked with the countries' health ministries over a six-month period in order to modernize testing for high-risk pathogens, increase outbreak response speed and improve emergency operations procedures, such as transporting potentially infectious specimens.

In both cases, a series of drills were carried out in order to measure the resulting improvements in laboratory testing, staff training and the effectiveness of information and management systems.

"Uganda and Vietnam have faced unique health challenges. Uganda has experienced Ebola, Marburg, cholera and MDR-TB outbreaks, and Vietnam has experienced SARS and H5N1 outbreaks," CDC Director for Global Health, Dr. Tom Kenyon said in a statement. "Their success at rapidly adding new disease detection and response skills suggests that similar efforts could work for other countries."

According to the CDC, the three main threats to global health security include: new and re-emerging pathogens, increasing antibiotic resistance and specially designed bioweapons.

At this point, less than 20 percent of nations have met the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations requirements for responding to public emergencies, the deadline for which was set as July 2012.

"The health security of the United States is only as strong as the health security of all nations around the world. We are all connected by the food we eat, the water we drink, and air we breathe," said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.

"Stopping outbreaks where they start is the most effective and least costly way to prevent disease and save lives at home and abroad - and it's the right thing to do. Progress in Uganda in less than a year shows how effective strategic investments can be."

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