The Power of Philanthropy in Stopping Disease Outbreaks

As our CDC Foundation team ramps up our support for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) response to the Coronavirus outbreak, I am sharing an op-ed released Sunday in the Chronicle of Philanthropy that emphasizes the key role philanthropic support plays in stopping outbreaks.

Gabrielle Fitzgerald, founder and CEO of Panorama, and author of the op-ed “How Philanthropists Can End the Cycle of Panic and Neglect for Disease Outbreaks,” writes, "while philanthropies can’t solve the problem alone, the unique abilities they have provide instrumental support. For Ebola, the rapid deployment of resources from nimble philanthropies provided critical funds to aid groups responding to the epidemic before the larger, and slower, contributions from governments could be put to work."

Gabrielle is writing from experience, as she led Ebola response efforts for Paul G. Allen, one of Microsoft’s co-founders. Allen’s support to the CDC Foundation provided emergency operations centers for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Along with the support of others, Allen’s commitment was critical in helping to stop the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak as well as strengthen response systems in each nation for the future.

While philanthropies can’t solve the problem alone, the unique abilities they have provide instrumental support. For Ebola, the rapid deployment of resources from nimble philanthropies provided critical funds to aid groups responding to the epidemic before the larger, and slower, contributions from governments could be put to work.

In the op-ed, Gabrielle added, “Following that model, philanthropists who want to respond to 2019-nCov should consider investing in the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund, which supports the efforts by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stop outbreaks at home and abroad. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation should be commended for leading the way with an initial $1 million contribution to the fund, but that is a tiny fraction of what is needed to get this outbreak under control.”

I thank Gabrielle for her work to ensure that people everywhere hear about and appreciate the vital role of philanthropic support in ending outbreaks. I hope you will consider donating to the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund to support us in ensuring that CDC has what it needs to tackle this outbreak.

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Judy Monroe, MD, is president and CEO of the CDC Foundation.