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Press Releases 2008

US CDC Assists China CDC in Earthquake Relief Efforts


U.S. CDC provides training to China CDC epidemiologists on Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) devices. The training will enable epidemiologists to track health needs in earthquake affected areas.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) is assisting the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), with support from private technology companies and the CDC Foundation, to strengthen China CDC’s health informatics capacities.  This timely partnership will be used for rapid public health assessments in Sichuan province’s post-earthquake environment.

US CDC recently deployed, from its Atlanta headquarters, six experts in informatics, mobile computing, and natural disaster epidemiologic surveillance to Beijing. The experts worked with China CDC counterparts to design and develop a platform of data collection and management which is based on PDA and mobile technology systems and tools.  

China CDC has responded since the May 12 earthquake by conducting health risk assessments, establishing a disease surveillance system and emergency laboratories, and launching mass immunization and health education campaigns.  As efforts in the affected areas shift from emergency response to recovery, the health and well-being of the approximately 5 million displaced persons and the re-building of health systems are chief concerns. The mobile devices donated to China CDC have geographic information systems (GIS) that can be used to collect data, map locations of clinics and shelters, and transmit this information for rapid analysis to determine health status of individuals and general public health needs.

During the early stages of emergency response to the earthquake, China CDC established a cell phone emergency reporting system in the disaster-hit areas to ensure rapid detection and response to potential epidemics. “With US CDC’s introduction of PDA/GIS system and strong technical assistance in helping China CDC develop a PDA-based survey platform, our public health surveillance system will be further strengthened and will play a more critical role in field data collection for post-disaster recovery and reconstruction,” said Dr. Yu Wang, Director of China CDC. “Our joint efforts in responding to this natural disaster also mark the beginning of the strategic cooperation between China CDC and US CDC in the field of health informatics.” 

“With the new system and equipment, China CDC will collect public health data in earthquake-affected areas where communications capacity has been destroyed and send  it to headquarters for analysis. This allows China CDC to rapidly get the right resources to the right places to save lives by preventing or reducing disease and injury,” said Leslie A. Lenert, MD, MS, director of CDC’s National Center for Public Health Informatics.

The CDC Foundation worked with US CDC and US firms to identify the technology needs and facilitate the rapid donation of approximately 600 mobile devices. The Foundation and donating firms then worked with US CDC to develop the data collection system and configure it to the needs of China CDC. 

“The Foundation is pleased to support this public-private effort to help China re-build crucial public health systems following the Sichuan earthquake,” said Charles Stokes, president and CEO, CDC Foundation.  Mr. Stokes added, “This collaborative public-private response by the US CDC and private technology companies exemplifies the good that can be accomplished in disaster-affected areas when governments and corporations work together.”

US CDC informatics experts will continue to provide guidance to China CDC in coming weeks on how to use the donated technology in a systematic and sustainable way to best manage disease control and prevention while the Sichuan public health system is rebuilt.

US CDC is recognized as a leading U.S. governmental agency for protecting the health and safety of people in the United States and internationally. CDC promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling diseases, injuries, and disabilities.

Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) is the national public health agency working in the fields of disease control and prevention, public health protection and promotion.  

The CDC Foundation is an independent, nonprofit enterprise that forges effective partnerships between CDC and others to fight threats to health and safety.