CDC Foundation Activates Domestic and Global Emergency Response Funds to Extend CDC's Response to Zika Virus

On Feb. 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. As the Zika virus continues to spread quickly through many countries in the Americas, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is accelerating its response to combat this health threat. At CDC’s request, the CDC Foundation has activated two funds: the U.S. Emergency Response Fund and the Global Disaster Response Fund. These funds allow CDC to better prepare for and respond to crisis situations, such as Zika, by providing flexibility to meet both immediate and planned needs that would not otherwise be readily available through federally appropriated funds.

Financial support raised through these funds will enhance CDC’s response in a number of ways, such as extend the agency’s ability to broadly alert healthcare providers and the public about Zika; fund Zika prevention kits with educational materials for pregnant women in Puerto Rico and other high-risk areas; protect travelers with guidance and information; support state health laboratories with diagnostic tests; and detect and report cases to help prevent further spread.

“Nature is a formidable adversary, and Zika is our newest threat, particularly to pregnant women,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “The CDC Foundation’s emergency response funds fill crucial gaps in CDC’s ability to protect people and save lives, in America and around the world.”

Zika virus is an unfamiliar threat, which is uncertain and evolving. This mosquito-borne virus is likely to continue to spread to new areas. Pregnant women are at the greatest risk. The virus may be linked to serious birth defects such as microcephaly, a condition where babies are born with smaller brains that might not have developed properly.

“This is a historic moment for the CDC Foundation. For the first time, we are activating both of our disaster response funds simultaneously. Contributions to these funds are urgently needed and will enable CDC to accelerate their broad outbreak activities serving to protect people from Zika at home and abroad,” said Dr. Judith Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “The funds are an excellent example of the CDC Foundation’s mission to help CDC do more, faster. When we activated our global disaster response fund in 2014 for CDC’s Ebola response efforts, we provided essential resources ranging from trucks to medical diagnostics and surveillance technologies for use in the field by CDC to health worker training and public health communications.”

The U.S. Emergency Response Fund was established in 2001 after the September 11 attacks. The fund was most recently activated to aid CDC’s response to the H1N1 flu outbreak. In 2004 the Global Disaster Response Fund was initiated to support CDC’s Tsunami relief efforts. Since then the fund has been activated for the 2014 Ebola response efforts and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The funds are designed to address public health emergencies and give CDC flexible, immediate resources during a crisis. Donations to the emergency response funds will support the needs determined by CDC for current and future emergencies.