Supporting the Public Health Needs of Afghan Evacuees

Looking at the recent images of the evacuees leaving Afghanistan, I saw individuals who feared for their lives, families desperate to find safety for their children, and American military officers demonstrating the very best of the American spirit by helping those most in need. While the evacuation process has come to a close, our work at home is just beginning.

The Afghan evacuees who are arriving here in America—many with only the clothes on their backs—have a variety of needs, most notably health needs. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic extends beyond geography and nationality, so too must our emergency response efforts.

That’s why the CDC Foundation is activating our Emergency Response Fund and working to meet the immediate public health needs of those Afghan individuals and families arriving in the country. Currently, our efforts are focused on facilitating communication between public health authorities and evacuees.

The CDC Foundation is working to provide evacuees cell phones that will serve as reliable, direct and critical connections between individuals, families and public health authorities. Public health authorities can then provide evacuees with essential health and resettlement resources, information on recommended follow-up for vaccinations and access to COVID-19 testing. The phones can also be used to share vital public health alerts and messaging.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) joined the U.S. government’s evacuation of U.S. and Afghan nationals from Afghanistan, supporting the broader U.S. government response. I am proud that the CDC Foundation is working with the CDC, the Department of Homeland Security, and on-the-ground partners, like refugee aid organizations, state and local health departments and community-based organizations to coordinate support for resettlement and the longer-term well-being of Afghan refugees.

As these evacuees start their lives over in America, the CDC Foundation is here to help meet their health needs, and I hope you will join our efforts and support this critical work in action. Together our impact is greater.

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