The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or CDC) is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services based in unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia adjacent to the campus of Emory University and east of the city of Atlanta. It works to protect public health and the safety of people, by providing information to enhance health decisions, and promotes health through partnerships with state health departments and other organizations. The CDC focuses national attention on developing and applying disease prevention and control (especially infectious diseases), environmental health, occupational safety and health, health promotion, prevention and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States.
- 1 CDC Health Protection Goals
- 2 CDC Structure
- 3 CDC Workforce
- 4 CDC Timeline
- 5 CDC: Then and Now
- 6 CDC Data and Survey Systems
- 7 CDC Publications
- 8 Further Information
- 9 Notes and references
- 10 See also
- 11 External links
CDC Health Protection Goals
CDC is committed to achieving true improvements in people’s health. To do so, the agency is defining specific health impact goals to prioritize and focus its work and investments and measure progress.
Healthy People in Every Stage of Life
All people, and especially those at greater risk of health disparities, will achieve their optimal lifespan with the best possible quality of health in every stage of life.
Start Strong: Increase the number of infants and toddlers that have a strong start for healthy and safe lives. (Infants and Toddlers, ages 0-3 years).
Grow Safe and Strong: Increase the number of children who grow up healthy, safe, and ready to learn. (Children, ages 4-11 years).
Achieve Healthy Independence: Increase the number of adolescents who are prepared to be healthy, safe, independent, and productive members of society. (Adolescents, ages 12-19 years).
Live a Healthy, Productive, and Satisfying Life: Increase the number of adults who are healthy and able to participate fully in life activities and enter their later years with optimum health. (Adults, ages 20-49 years).
Live Better, Longer: Increase the number of older adults who live longer, high-quality, productive, and independent lives. (Older Adults, ages 50 and over).
Healthy People in Healthy Places
The places where people live, work, learn, and play will protect and promote their health and safety, especially those at greater risk of health disparities.
Healthy Communities: Increase the number of communities that protect, and promote health and safety and prevent illness and injury in all their members.
Healthy Homes: Protect and promote health through safe and healthy home environments.
Healthy Schools: Increase the number of schools that protect and promote the health, safety and development of all students, and protect and promote the health and safety of all staff. (e.g. – healthy food vending, physical activity programs).
Healthy Workplaces: Promote and protect the health and safety of people who work by preventing workplace-related fatalities, illnesses, injuries, and personal health risks.
Healthy Healthcare Settings: Increase the number of healthcare settings that provide safe, effective, and satisfying patient care.
Healthy Institutions: Increase the number of institutions that provide safe, healthy, and equitable environments for their residents, clients or inmates.
Healthy Travel and Recreation: Ensure that environments enhance health and prevent illness and injury during travel and recreation.
People Prepared for Emerging Health Threats
People in all communities will be protected from infectious, occupational, environmental, and terrorist threats. Preparedness goals will address scenarios that include natural and intentional threats. The first round of these scenarios will encompass influenza, anthrax, plague, emerging infections, toxic chemical exposure, and radiation exposure.
Increase the use and development of interventions known to prevent human illness from chemical, biological, radiological agents, and naturally occurring health threats.
Decrease the time needed to classify health events as terrorism or naturally occurring in partnership with other agencies.
Decrease the time needed to detect and report chemical, biological, radiological agents in tissue, food or environmental samples that cause threats to the public’s health.
Improve the timeliness and accuracy of communications regarding threats to the public’s health.
Decrease the time to identify causes, risk factors, and appropriate interventions for those affected by threats to the public’s health.
Decrease the time needed to provide countermeasures and health guidance to those affected by threats to the public’s health.
Decrease the time needed to restore health services and environmental safety to pre-event levels.
Improve the long-term follow-up provided to those affected by threats to the public’s health.
Decrease the time needed to implement recommendations from after-action reports following threats to the public’s health.
Healthy People in a Healthy World
People around the world will live safer, healthier and longer lives through health promotion, health protection, and health diplomacy.
Health Promotion: Global health will improve by sharing knowledge, tools and other resources with people and partners around the world.
Health Protection: Americans at home and abroad will be protected from health threats through a transnational prevention, detection and response network.
Health Diplomacy: CDC and the United States Government will be a trusted and effective resource for health development and health protection around the globe.
CDC is one of the major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services. CDC's major organizational components respond individually in their areas of expertise and pool their resources and expertise on cross-cutting issues and specific health threats. The agency comprises these major organizational components:
Office of the Director manages and directs the activities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; provides overall direction to, and coordination of, the scientific/medical programs of CDC; and provides leadership, coordination, and assessment of administrative management activities.
The CDC is under the direction of Dr. Julie Louise Gerberding, M.D., M.P.H. Dr. Gerberding has been the director of the CDC since July 2002.
Coordinating Center for Environmental Health and Injury Prevention
National Center for Environmental Health/ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH-ATSDR) provides national leadership in preventing and controlling disease and death resulting from the interactions between people and their environment.
Coordinating Center for Health Information and Services
National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) provides statistical information that guides actions and policies to improve the health of the American people.
National Center for Public Health Informatics (NCPHI) provides national leadership in the application of information technology in the pursuit of public health.
National Center for Health Marketing (NCHM) provides national leadership in health marketing science and in its application to impact public health.
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) provides national leadership for preventing birth defects and developmental disabilities and for improving the health and wellness of people with disabilities.
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) prevents premature death and disability from chronic diseases and promotes healthy personal behaviors.
National Office of Public Health Genomics provides national leadership in fostering understanding of human genomic discoveries and how they can be used to improve health and prevent disease.
Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases
National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID) prevents illness, disability, and death caused by infectious diseases in the United States and around the world.
National Immunization Program (NIP) prevents disease, disability, and death from vaccine-preventable diseases in children and adults.
National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHSTP) provides national leadership in preventing and controlling human immunodeficiency virus infection, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis.
Coordinating Office for Global Health provides national leadership, coordination, and support for CDC’s global health activities in collaboration with CDC’s global health partners.
Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness & Emergency Response provides strategic direction for the Agency to support terrorism preparedness and emergency response efforts.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) ensures safety and health for all people in the workplace through research and prevention.
- CDC performs many of the administrative functions for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a sister agency of CDC, and one of eight federal public health agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services. The Director of CDC also serves as the Administrator of ATSDR.
CDC’s budget for 2006 is $8.5 billion. Today the staff numbers nearly 15,000 (including 6,000 contractors and 840 Commissioned Corps officers) in 170 occupations. Engineers, entomologists, epidemiologists, biologists, physicians, veterinarians, behaviorial scientists, nurses, medical technologists, economists, health communicators, toxicologists, chemists, computer scientists, and statisticians—to name only a few—each are dedicated to the pursuit of public health.
CDC is headquartered in DeKalb County, Georgia, but it has 10 other locations in the United States and Puerto Rico. Those locations include Anchorage, Alaska; Cincinnati, Ohio; Fort Collins, Colorado; Hyattsville, Maryland; Morgantown, West Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Spokane, Washington; and Washington, D.C. In addition, CDC staff are located in state and local health agencies, quarantine/border health offices at ports of entry, and 45 countries around the world, from Angola to Zimbabwe.
The work force is diverse and well qualified. More than a third of CDC’s employees are members of a racial or ethnic minority group, and women account for nearly 60 percent of CDC’s workforce. Nearly 40 percent of employees have a master’s degree; 25 percent have a Ph.D.; and 10 percent have medical degrees. The average age of a CDC worker is 46.
The CDC campus in Atlanta houses facilities for the research of extremely dangerous biological agents. This setting was well represented in the Dustin Hoffman film Outbreak, although the location depicted in the film was supposed to be the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases bio-research facility. The CDC labs also figure prominently in the book "The Demon in the Freezer" by Richard Preston and "Virus Hunter" by C.J. Peters, former head of the Special Pathogens Branch at the CDC.
CDC: Then and Now
On July 1, 1946, the Communicable Disease Center was established. Its founder was a visionary leader in public health, Dr. Joseph Mountin. The new agency, which was established the year after World War II ended, descended from the wartime agency, Malaria Control in War Areas. Established as a small branch of the U.S. Public Health Service, the CDC was located on the sixth floor of the Volunteer Building on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia, hundreds of miles from Washington, D.C., and other federal agencies. The organization took root deep in the South, once the heart of the malaria zone.
CDC initially focused on fighting malaria by killing mosquitoes. In fact, malaria was by far CDC’s most absorbing interest; during the first year of operations, 59 percent of its personnel were engaged in this effort. Among its 369 employees, the key jobs at CDC were originally entomology and engineering. In 1946, there were only seven medical officers on duty.
Back then, CDC’s budget was about $1 million. The insecticide DDT, available since 1943, was the primary weapon in the malaria fight, and CDC’s early challenges included obtaining enough trucks, sprayers, and shovels to wage the war on mosquitoes. In CDC’s initial years, more than six and a half million homes were sprayed, and an early organization chart was even drawn—somewhat fancifully—in the shape of a mosquito.
But CDC was soon to spread its wings. CDC founder Dr. Joseph Mountin continued to advocate for public health issues and to push for CDC to extend its responsibilities to many other communicable diseases. In 1947, CDC made a token payment of $10 to Emory University for 15 acres of land on Clifton Road in Atlanta, the home of CDC headquarters today. CDC employees collected the money to make the purchase. The benefactor behind the “gift” was Robert Woodruff, Chairman of the Board of the Coca-Cola Company. Woodruff had a long-time interest in malaria control; it had been a problem in areas where he went hunting. As you can see, malaria was the catalyst for the agency’s creation. The scene was now set for CDC to expand its home, its mission, and its reach.
Today, CDC is the nation's premier health promotion, prevention, and preparedness agency and a global leader in public health. During the past 60 years, its name has changed to reflect its more complex mission. While it’s still known by the initials CDC, the agency’s name today is Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the six decades since its founding, CDC has grown dramatically: in staff, budget and mission. The world authority on communicable disease, CDC has broadened its focus to include chronic diseases, disabilities, injury control, workplace hazards, environmental health threats, and terrorism preparedness. Whereas malaria was once considered a threat to the country’s security, new threats have now emerged. CDC tackles emerging diseases and other health risks, including birth defects, West Nile virus, obesity, avian and pandemic flu, E. coli, auto wrecks, and bioterrorism, to name a few.
CDC remains committed to its vision of healthy people in a healthy world. Part of the Department of Health and Human Services, CDC applies research and findings to improve people’s daily lives and responds to health emergencies, and in 60 years, CDC has grown in size and stature, scope and science, and reputation and reach. Memories have been built and milestones achieved. World-class scientists work in world-class facilities. But while much has changed since 1946, the heart of CDC is still its people—dedicated and diligent, persevering and professional, making a difference in lives around the world.
The CDC is one of the few Bio-Safety Level 4 laboratories in the country, as well as one of only two "official" repositories of smallpox in the world. The second smallpox stores reside at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in the Russian Federation, though it is possible that other countries may have obtained samples during the collapse of the Soviet Union.
On September 6, 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported suicide rate in American adolescents (especially girls, 10 to 24 years old) increased 8% (2003 to 2004), the largest jump in 15 years. Specifically, in 2004 - 4,599 suicides in Americans ages 10 to 24, up from 4,232 in 2003, for a rate of 7.32 per 100,000 people that age. Before, the rate dropped to 6.78 per 100,000 in 2003 from 9.48 per 100,000 in 1990. The findings also reported that antidepressant drugs reduced suicide risk. Psychiatrists found that the increase is due to the decline in prescriptions of antidepressant drugs like Prozac to young people since 2003, leaving more cases of serious depression untreated. In a December 2006 study, The American Journal of Psychiatry said that a decrease in antidepressant prescriptions to minors of just a few percentage points coincided with a 14 percent increase in suicides in the United States; in the Netherlands, the suicide rate was 50% up, upon prescription drop.
CDC Data and Survey Systems
- CDC Scientifc Data, Surveillance, Health Statistics, and Laboratory Information.
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
- Mortality Medical Data System.
- Comprehensive list of publications and products
- State of CDC report
- CDC Programs in Brief
- Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
- Emerging Infectious Disease Journal
Notes and references
- The CDC Director - Julie Gerberding, M.D., M.P.H.
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. CDC: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. URL accessed on 2006-08-05.
- New York Times, Suicide Rises in Youth; Antidepressant Debate Looms
- CDC Data and Statistics. CDC - National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. URL accessed on 2006-08-10.
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. CDC - National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. URL accessed on 2006-08-10.
- NCHS - Mortality Data - About the Mortality Medical Data System. CDC - National Center for Health Statistics. URL accessed on 2007-01-09.
- CDC - Publications. CDC - National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. URL accessed on 2006-08-10.
- State of CDC Report: Fiscal Year 2005. CDC - National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. URL accessed on 2006-08-10.
- Programs In Brief: Home Page. CDC - National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. URL accessed on 2006-08-10.
- Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report - MMWR. CDC - National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. URL accessed on 2006-08-10.
- Emerging Infectious Diseases. CDC - National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. URL accessed on 2006-08-10.
- European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)
- The CDC Homepage
- CDC media relations site
- CDC Health Topics A to Z
- CDC Public Health Image Library
- CDC Global Communications Center
- Sex and the CDC, The Indypendent
The CDC Foundation operates independently from CDC as a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in the State of Georgia. The creation of the Foundation was authorized by section 399F of the Public Health Service Act to support the mission of CDC in partnership with the private sector, including organizations, foundations, businesses, educational groups, and individuals.
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