Is the CDC surpassing the WHO in the global fight against infectious disease?

The CDC is becoming increasingly involved in international health concerns as the World Health Organization's role in leading such efforts seems to be diminishing, according to PRI, a global nonprofit media company.

As international travel and globalization continue to facilitate the spread of infectious disease and the burden of international health issues related climate change, the CDC is stepping up its efforts to combat infectious diseases like Zika, Ebola and HIV across the world. Simultaneously, some say the WHO is struggling to coordinate responses to international health crises.

"Its handling of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was abysmal, especially in the first nine months," Laurie Garrett, PhD, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S. think tank comprised of experts in foreign policy and global affairs, told PRI. "We now have the possibility of a massive resurgence of cholera in the wake of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, and once again, the WHO is struggling."

These problems, according to Dr. Garrett, are largely structural. The WHO weights votes equally for all nations, meaning countries with massive populations like China and India are only given one vote a piece. Also, the organization hasn't raised dues on member states in more than four decades, which means the core budget for the WHO has been decreasing when adjusted for inflation.

An example of the CDC's expanding role in leading the fight against global disease is its HIV prevention program. According to Dr. Garrett, of the 18 million people worldwide who receive antiretroviral therapy, the U.S. funds the treatment for 12 million of them.

"It is the single largest government global health program in history. Nothing comes close," Dr. Garrett told PRI.

More articles on infection control: 
Top 10 infection control stories, Nov. 7-11 
Mount Sinai launches surgical robotics institute 
New test uses USB chip to screen for HIV

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