Atlanta chapter hears from CDC about global health efforts

Members of the Atlanta chapter of AHCJ heard a fascinating talk about the CDC’s global reach from Ron Ballard, associate director for laboratory science for the agency’s Center for Global Health.

Ballard, who has traveled extensively in coordinating international lab activities for the CDC, told about 20 journalists at a Sept. 10 meeting that the agency is working in dozens of  countries on activities ranging from disease detection and immunizations to programs fighting HIV/AIDS.

The CDC’s work has helped avert more than 500,000 infant HIV infections from 2004 to 2011, Ballard said. He described the CDC’s collaboration with countries to upgrade the quality of their laboratories.

Malaria remains a major priority in global health, Ballard said.

The agency, meanwhile, is seeing much success in the attempt to eradicate polio, he said. Last year, India was taken off the WHO list of polio-endemic countries, leaving just three: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

African countries are discussing issues such as the aging of their populations, which demonstrates how their public health and life expectancy have improved, Ballard said.

He said budget cuts have had their effect on the CDC global efforts, but that the agency is working with countries to take over more of their public health functions.

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