GM Fleet Mobilizes CDC's Global Health Force in Asia and Africa

With increasing threats to public health around the world, particularly in hard-to-reach locations, today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation (CDC Foundation) and the GM Foundation announced a partnership that will provide CDC with vehicles for transporting critical supplies, personnel and equipment to regions where they are needed most.

Through the partnership, announced in conjunction with World Health Day on April 7, CDC will acquire sport utility vehicles and light trucks in eight countries − Cambodia, Thailand, Kenya, Angola, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa and Laos.

“Easy movement of resources plays a crucial role in efficiently delivering health services and monitoring for outbreaks in countries where serious health threats are common,” says Stephen Blount, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Coordinating Office for Global Health. “The GM vehicles will provide reliable transportation to help CDC and our partners overseas address existing health challenges like HIV/AIDS and detect and respond to emerging threats like avian flu.”

CDC is actively engaged in addressing public health challenges around the world. Currently, the agency has field stations and programmatic activities in 43 countries. In partnership with health officials and healthcare providers in host countries, CDC scientists work to protect and promote health through disease surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory research and outbreak response.

“When the CDC Foundation requested our help in meeting the CDC’s pressing need for transportation in the field, we saw a natural opportunity,” says Rod Gillum, GM vice president Corporate Responsibility and Diversity and Chairman, GM Foundation. “The GM Foundation doesn’t treat or cure infectious diseases around the world, but we can help mobilize those who do.”

The CDC Foundation will purchase 16 GM vehicles, including light trucks like the Chevrolet Colorado, in-country and deliver them to CDC field stations and regional sites during 2006 and 2007. Programs in Cambodia, Thailand and Kenya will receive the first nine vehicles this year to support activities in CDC’s highest priority areas of influenza, refugee health, HIV/AIDS, emerging infectious diseases detection and response and community-based disease surveillance.

At CDC’s busy Thailand field station, the GM vehicles will boost capacity to transport biological specimens and laboratory supplies to and from 20 different hospitals and clinics in support of ongoing programs and research related to the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, emerging infections and TB. CDC staff will use the vehicles daily to meet with Thai counterparts in outlying provinces. During outbreak investigations, including avian influenza and other public health threats, the vehicles will be critical lifelines.

In Kenya, where CDC also implements the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, vehicles will immediately be used to deliver antiretroviral drugs safely and securely to clinics and hospitals treating patients who have HIV. Replacing existing open pickups, the new vehicles will protect boxes of supplies and drugs from sun, rain or possible theft.

CDC teams in Cambodia will use the vehicles to rapidly and safely transport laboratory supplies and equipment necessary for diagnosing HIV/AIDS and emerging infections. The vehicles will also provide critical capacity to move personnel and supplies during outbreak investigations. 

“With the health of U.S. citizens increasingly linked to the health of populations around the world, enhancing CDC’s ability to carry out disease detection and control activities overseas is vitally important,” says Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “Through this partnership, the GM Foundation is leading the way in mobilizing crucial CDC resources and expertise to help protect us all.”