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CDC Director Warns Of U.S. Complacency On Global Health Issues As Agency Faces Budget Cuts

“America is facing a ‘perfect storm of vulnerability’ for exposure to infectious diseases, making public health efforts more important than ever, [CDC Director Tom Frieden] warned Tuesday” during a luncheon at the National Press Club, the Washington Times reports. “The successful fight against many infectious diseases can lead to a sense of complacency, Dr. Frieden warned,” the newspaper writes. “But the increasing interconnectedness of the world means America is always at risk of being affected by outbreaks in other nations,” and “[a] lot of food and medication in the U.S. comes from outside its borders, he said, [adding] it only takes one missed diagnosis to unleash an epidemic.”

“He pointed to the H7N9 strain of the bird flu virus that was diagnosed this year in China,” noting “his agency is working to develop a vaccine for the latest bird flu strain, and that it launches on average one new investigation into infectious diseases every day,” according to the Washington Times. “But faced with growing debt and shrinking funds, many cuts are being made to the nation’s health infrastructure, he added,” the newspaper writes (Swarts, 9/10). “Frieden is trying to raise the agency’s profile at a time when new budget wars loom on Capitol Hill and lawmakers are more attuned to defending the budget of the [NIH] against new cuts than against less well understood agencies, such as the CDC, that depend on discretionary spending,” CQ HealthBeat adds (Reichard, 9/10).