CDC to downsize international epidemic prevention work

Published on February 28, 2018
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects to run out of money for some of its epidemic prevention activities overseas, causing it to scale back or stop its work in this area, according to a CDC internal email reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Unless it gets new funding, the CDC will start winding down its efforts against infectious diseases in October 2019, eventually going from 49 countries to 10 countries, the Journal reported Jan. 19. As part of an initiative called the global health security agenda, the CDC helps expand surveillance for new viruses and drug-resistant bacteria, modernize laboratories to detect dangerous pathogens, and train workers who respond to epidemics.

The cuts are necessary because a five-year supple­mental package awarded to the CDC and other government agencies in fiscal year 2015—spurred by the Ebola outbreak in 2014—will come to an end, the article said.

The CDC "will have to scale its global health security portfolio to focus efforts based on existing resources," Rebecca Martin, director of the CDC's Center for Global Health, wrote in the email to U.S. and overseas leaders in its global health center, as reported by the Journal.

"Faced with this anticipated fiscal reality, we have had to make some very difficult decisions," she wrote in mid-January.

The cutbacks could be reversed, at least to some extent, if more funding become available, the Journal reported.

The 10 countries where the CDC will continue its work are India, Thailand, Vietnam, Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Jordan, and Guatemala.

The CDC said in a statement that it is taking these steps now because "we recognize the need for forward planning, and are confident that by planning now we will successfully achieve smooth transitions."