The CDC Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization that helps the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) save and improve lives here and around the world. “We have the speed and flexibility to go beyond what government can do,” said CDC Foundation President and CEO, Dr. Judy Monroe, M.D. “We’re the fast army behind the army,” she joked. The Foundation does so by mobilizing philanthropic partners, corporations, and other private-sector resources to support CDC’s critical health protection mission.
“During the COVID pandemic response, the CDC’s people are working 24/7. They’ve put their hearts and souls into the science, but they’re also trying to translate that science into guidance that honestly every hospital in the nation uses and every health department,” she told Club members. The Foundation assisted by activating its emergency response fund in January of 2020 as signs of the pandemic emerged from China. “We’ve done everything from helping folks in quarantine, the homeless, getting vaccines out, and have hired over a thousand staff to embed them in state health departments to aid in the pandemic response,” she said. To date, the Foundation has raised $297 million in donations for COVID response.
Another area the Foundation has assisted with is data systems and the problem of reliable data reporting in our public health system. “We are not at a current state with our data systems where all the data is coming in as accurately or as timely as it should…you know, we had health departments when we started in this pandemic that were using fax machines,” Dr. Monroe said. She said the CDC and the Foundation have launched the first comprehensive data modernization initiative in the history of public health in the country. “It would be a game-changer to have the data in real time to inform decision-making,” she added.
So how can businesses, organizations and non-profits help with the COVID-19 response and build a stronger public health system? The CDC Foundation is a founding partner in the Health Action Alliance (HAA) which strengthens and accelerates the business community’s response to COVID-19. HAA provides free best-in-class tools, resources, training and events for the business community to help companies deliver trusted, fact-based health communications to employees and encourage consumers to make informed decisions about COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Monroe also discussed the CDC Foundation’s other focus areas beyond the current pandemic. These include global health security, by preparing for threats and providing a unifying framework for more than 40 countries to improve the global response to disease outbreaks and close gaps in surveillance and interventions. Other focus areas are providing emergency response after hurricanes and reversing the trend of increasing opioid deaths nationwide.
Since 1995, the CDC Foundation has raised over $1 billion and launched more than 1,000 programs impacting a variety of health threats from chronic disease conditions including cardiovascular disease and cancer, to infectious diseases like rotavirus and HIV, to emergency responses, including COVID-19 and Ebola. Last year, the Foundation managed hundreds of CDC-led programs in the U.S. and in more than 140 countries.