Our Global Voices Posts

CDC Team Takes ME/CFS Around the World

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Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis and referred to as ME/CFS, is a debilitating illness that takes away the active lives of people who suffer from it. Between 17 – 24 million people worldwide are thought to have ME/CFS and, in the United States, this illness may affect up to 2.5 million Americans. ME/CFS affects people of all ages and races, and is more common in women than men. The Institute of Medicine reports that patients with ME/CFS are more functionally impaired than people with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and hypertension. ME/CFS is a recognized illness in many countries and regions beyond the United States, including the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, Japan, India, and China.

. Dr. Elizabeth Unger, head of the ME/CFS program at the CDC
Dr. Elizabeth Unger at the CFS/ME International Conference: Research, Innovation, and Discovery, Queensland, Australia, 2018. Photo by Vivienne Hughes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that ME/CFS is a significant public health problem in the United States. But you may be surprised to learn how CDC contributes to the global fight against ME/CFS. Dr. Elizabeth Unger, head of the ME/CFS program at the CDC, describes how her team’s work impacts ME/CFS outside the United States.

“CDC’s work describing the epidemiology and economic burden of ME/CFS in the United States has provided support for research and clinical investment by other countries. Since our program was started, we push for peer-reviewed research and publications in ME/CFS. We believe in partnering with other researchers to more accurately identify clinical aspects of ME/CFS that could lead to better diagnosis and management.”

“One highlight of our program is to bring together different stakeholders to hear different perspectives on ME/CFS and how it affects many parts of the community. We include patients with ME/CFS, caregivers, healthcare providers, and public health departments in our roundtable series. The sharing of stories and ideas has been an important part of our program and we hope our roundtables will serve as a helpful format as more countries look for innovative ways to further the cause of ME/CFS.”

One outcome of CDC’s stakeholder roundtable meetings was an update to its website and educational materials, including special webpages designed to help educate doctors and healthcare workers about ME/CFS.

Dr. Elizabeth Unger (right) at the CFS/ME International Conference
Dr. Elizabeth Unger (right) at the CFS/ME International Conference: Research, Innovation, and Discovery, Queensland, Australia, 2018. Photo by Vivienne Hughes.

“By incorporating the input of patients and healthcare providers, we hope to show that learning works best when everyone works together. Many of our educational materials are accessed by citizens from other countries and we have provided a version in Spanish.”

Another way that CDC interacts with different countries is participation at international conferences. For example, Dr. Unger represented CDC at the Biomedical Research into ME Colloquium 7 through 9 (2017-2019), which is sponsored by Invest in ME Research, an advocacy group in the United Kingdom. She also presented CDC’s work on ME/CFS at the “CFS/ME International Conference: Research Innovation and Discovery,” held November 2018 in Australia. This two-day conference included speakers from Australia, Japan, Poland and the United States.

CDC’s ME/CFS program has also supported international efforts by active participation in the International Association of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (IACFS/ME) meetings, represented by over 26 countries. The conferences are held about every three years and provide a unique opportunity for scientists, clinicians, and patients to gather and learn about the latest research and clinical progress. Fred Friedberg, President of IACFS says “CDC plays an important role globally in ME/CFS by being a leader in science, epidemiology, and education. CDC is pivotal in advancing knowledge about ME/CFS on a global level.”

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World Meningitis Day 2020

She Knew Something Was Wrong Rahinatou Hamidou Amadou, an 18-year-old woman living in Niger, woke up one morning feeling fine, but by the afternoon knew that something was very wrong. She told her classmates she wasn’t feeling well, and a short time later could barely walk. She began suffering from an intense headache and a Read More >

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Safe Water Saves Lives- How We Can Combat Cholera

CDC public health engineer Andrea Martinsen works on the Global WASH team within the Division of Global Health Protection (DGHP), where she responds to international disasters, disease outbreaks, and humanitarian crises that threatened the supply and provision of safe drinking water. In September 2018, an outbreak of cholera was declared when 25 patients were first Read More >

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Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Community by Community

Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission Turns Around A Widow’s Life

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a lead agency in the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), works every day with partners to accelerate HIV epidemic control efforts. Communities play a vital role in controlling and ultimately ending the epidemic. A key part of CDC’s efforts in Tanzania includes working with Read More >

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CDC Responders talk about their experiences in Rwanda

Travelers get their temperature checked while crossing the DRC border into Rwanda.

Serving in Rwanda as an Assistant Ebola Coordinator CDC epidemiologist Shayne Gallaway served as Assistant Ebola Coordinator during multiple deployments to Rwanda for the 2018 Eastern DRC Ebola Response. Gallaway and team provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Health to prevent, detect, and respond to viral hemorrhagic fevers, including Ebola. He is a Lieutenant Read More >

Posted on by Shayne Gallaway / Dr. Kristie E. N. Clarke / Dr. Samira Sami / Todd Lucas, MD, MPHLeave a commentTags , ,

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

World Day Remembrance for Road traffic victims

  The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims takes place every third Sunday in November. It serves as a way to: Remember the millions of people killed and injured in road traffic crashes, and recognize their families, friends, and communities; Pay tribute to the dedicated emergency responders, police, and medical professionals who deal with Read More >

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We can finish the job of Polio Eradication but, it will not be easy.

afghanistan polio vaccination immunization campaign

This year, 2019, has been a challenging one for polio eradication.  Though we have made incredible gains in recent years, the polio program has faced two critical challenges. First, an increase in wild poliovirus (WPV) cases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the only two countries with detected WPV cases since 2016. And second, a large increase Read More >

Posted on by Dr. John Vertefeuille Branch Chief, Polio Eradication Branch, Global Immunization Division, Center for Global Heath, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionLeave a commentTags , , ,

The Face of Dengue

Colorful bed nets

By mid-July 2019, more than 28,000 cases of dengue had been reported in Honduras with a total of 178 deaths. This outbreak is the biggest recorded in recent history. The total number of deaths in a seven-month period, marks this outbreak as having the highest death rate than any other in Honduras. It had been Read More >

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Strengthening the Heart of a Community in Thailand

Sampaow discusses her blood pressure reading with Monsasiporn and describes challenges she has been facing with self-monitoring. Photo credit: Henry Vandi

Henry Vandi is a CDC Foundation field employee in the Division of Global Health Protection in CDC’s Center for Global Health As we approached a house surrounded by lush, tropical vegetation, a petite but muscular woman with a warm smile greeted us on the porch. “Hello! I’ve been waiting for you!” Sampaow said cheerfully, wrapping Read More >

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A life-long career dedicated to protecting people against mosquito borne diseases

Dr. Bill Brogdon (center) along with USN CAPT (retired) David Hoel and National Malaria Control Program staff at PMI Entomology Training in Uganda, 2015

Many people don’t choose a career path until after college, or even after a few years of working in a particular field. But then, many are not like my former colleague, Dr. William (Bill) Brogdon. Bill first entered the doors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a 17-year-old high school student and Read More >

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