The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one of 13 operating divisions of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC leads public health efforts to prevent and control infectious and chronic disease, injuries, workplace hazards, disabilities, and environmental health threats. It is also responsible for producing and distributing health information internationally. While the CDC is globally recognized for its scientific research and epidemiologic investigations, newly emerging issues such as terrorism, environmental threats, and a rapidly aging population continue to challenge its capabilities. Although the CDC is supposed to prevent and control infectious disease, it has been accused of blatantly withholding information regarding such diseases as syphilis, autism and Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
Dr. Joseph W. Mountin founded the original Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta, GA, in 1946. At that time it was a relatively insignificant branch of the Public Health Service. As a successor of Malaria Control in War Areas (MCWA), the agency initially focused on combating malaria by killing mosquitoes with insecticide. The agency started out with a budget under $10 million and less than 400 employees. By about 1949, malaria no longer posed a significant health risk in the U.S.,
The CDC conducts surveillance on a wide range of health threats, from infectious diseases to bioterrorism to environmental hazards. It tries to look ahead to the future epidemics of an infectious disease like SARS or avian flu. Its goal is to prevent such outbreaks through such means as scientific breakthroughs and public education for prevention. It also provides funding for state and local health departments, community based organizations, and academic institutions for a wide array of public health programs and research.
Sanofi-Aventis of Aventis Pastuer Inc., has obtained a multi-year avian flu vaccine contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2007 Sanofi received $126.9 million for its bulk pandemic vaccine, and it was expecting 192.5 million in the second quarter of 2008.
(By Alison Young, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Jeffrey P. Koplan 1998-2002
Before becoming the director of the CDC in 1998, Koplan was the President of Prudential Center for Health Care Research. After stepping down from the position of CDC director in 2002, Koplan moved on to become Vice President for academic health affairs at Emory University, also located in Atlanta.
With a long career in public health, Thomas R. Frieden’s credits include spearheading successful programs to curb tuberculosis in New York City and India. President Barack Obama’s choice to take over the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has been accused of fomenting a “nanny state” while implementing controversial health measures in the nation’s largest city.