Overview of the Organization
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) is a national public health agency of the US. It is a United States federal agency operating under the Department of Health and Human Services, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. The main objective of the agency is to protect public health and safety by controlling and preventing disease and injury occurrence within the population, both locally and globally. Its mission is to develop and apply efforts targeted at disease prevention, namely, infectious diseases and food-borne pathogens, occupational health and safety, health promotion, and injury prevention (Felter, 2021). In addition, the CDC also conducts research and offers information on non-infectious diseases, such as diabetes or obesity, and is among the founding members of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes.
CDC is the country’s leading science-based and data-driven service organization that safeguards the health of the public. For more than seventy years, the agency has put science into action to help growing generations stay healthy, so they can develop and learn, and help families, businesses, and communities to remain strong against disease. CDC mentions a bold promise to the nation as its strategic framework and priorities. Within the strategic framework, CDC commits to saving American lives through securing global health and also the US’s preparedness, eliminating disease, and eliminating epidemics.
Within its efforts of providing domestic and international leadership as well as epidemiologic and laboratory expertise, the CDC is challenged by responding and working toward eliminating every disease possible. The agency protects and supports public healthy through implementing evidence-based strategies aimed at tobacco control, addressing vaccine-preventable illnesses such as Hepatitis C, and issuing the methods and resources necessary for reducing the influence of disease in the form of morbidity and mortality. For example, through CDC’s leadership, there are nationwide initiatives aimed at reducing death occurrence and preventing chronic illnesses that occur as a result of tobacco use. Besides, the organization collaborates with local, state, and national partners to combat the use of tobacco. Overall, CDC has a vast influence on research and decision-making in the sphere of national public health, which means that other agencies and bodies often collaborate with it to improve the quality of life of the population.
The CDC has an important impact on the social aspect of society as the organization has explored the social determinants of health (SDOH). These determinants are conditions set in place where individuals live, learn, work, and engage in leisure, which can lead to several health and life quality risks and outcomes. The social determinants of health include economic stability, access to high-quality education, access to healthcare, the quality of neighborhood environments, as well as the general social and community context. SDOH contribute to a large number of health inequities and disparities. For instance, the CDC has found that individuals who do not have access to grocery stores that stock high-quality and healthy foods, they are more likely to have poor nutrition. Consequently, they are at a greater risk of developing adverse conditions ranging from obesity to high disease, which lowers life expectancy as compared to populations that can access healthy foods.
CDC has also defined education as an important social factor that contributes to positive health outcomes for the population. For example, school-based education helps adolescent populations acquire knowledge on functional health and strengthen their attitudes and practice skills imperative for adopting and practicing healthy behaviors throughout their lives. By promoting the message regarding the importance of education, especially concerning food and nutrition, sexual health, and positive lifestyle choices, the CDC has a social influence on communities, both in the US and globally.
While the CDC has been long considered a source of impartial public health expertise, free of political influence, it has been complex for the agency to stay away from political issues because of their overarching impact on society. For example, when the White House, under the leadership of Donald Trump, pushed for school reopening during the pandemic, the CDC was said to downplay the spread of coronavirus and underlined the disadvantages of keeping schools closed (Raz & Eyal, 2020). However, the main issue was not about school reopening in general but rather doing it safely. Thus, the government relied significantly on the expertise of the CDC, but the organization has also experienced pressure from political leaders to provide health advice to fit their agenda.
The political influence of the CDC cannot be overlooked because regulatory science has been imperative for depoliticizing risk awareness as well as policymakers and the public with an objective resolution of any healthcare-related dispute (Raz & Eyal, 2020). However, for the CDC, it is complicated to stay apolitical because politics can often help improve populations’ quality of life and facilitate environments conducive to disease prevention. Thus, even though protecting the CDC from political interference could be tempting for some, it risks isolating it from alternative viewpoints provided by the diverse sources of expertise.
For the CDC, global health protection and security comes hand-in-hand with safeguarding populations’ jobs and the economy. In the increasingly interconnected global society, the continued advancement of health can help protect US citizens and populations around the world from experiencing adverse health and economic consequences associated with disease outbreaks and emergencies in public health. The organization has consistently conducted economic impact analyses associated with disease outbreaks or consistently poor health quality of a population.
The CDC findings suggest that effective health promotion and prevention is necessary for avoiding adverse events for the economy. For example, public health emergencies such as Zika, Ebola, COVID-19, or influenza have disrupted local, regional, and international markets, thus creating economic instability globally (CDC, 2019). Regardless of the threats to public health, CDC and its global partners have worked to protect and save the lives of the population. The established programs have supported countries with the help of technical and financial assistance to contain outbreaks or to establish environments that can guarantee improved health. At the present time, the CDC has been challenged by addressing the economic issues that global society has been experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic devastation has been rampant as manufacturers had had to stop production to avoid the spreading of the virus, which caused disruption in the supply of products, in turn resulting in public panic (Saul, Xu, & Sun, 2021). It is, therefore, the CDC’s agenda to ensure that the economy does not suffer from adverse consequences of poor-quality public health.
The CDC has been consistent in its messaging, suggesting that populations’ ideas about health, language, culture and traditions all communicate their perceptions of healthy lifestyles and practices that improve their well-being. By recognizing cultural differences, it is possible to increase populations’ health literacy and increase the effectiveness of communication regarding health improvement (Nash et al., 2021). Therefore, cross-cultural communication plays a defining role in establishing good life quality within populations because their communities tend to have different approaches to health and varied values and practices that they implement.
By enabling cultural sensitivity and acceptance of varied perspectives on health that depend on different cultures, healthcare providers are likely to avoid miscommunication and reduce conflicts that they may have with their patients. Through culturally adapted health care, professionals can delve deeper into the cultural considerations such as economic, social, and psychological characteristics. The CDC has consistently promoted culturally adapted healthcare through matching healthcare professionals to patients by their ethnicity, culture, language, or literacy skills and facilitating education through community-based health advocates (Shen, 2021). Besides, it has been a common practice to incorporate considerations concerning faith, family, dietary habits, and self-image into patient care to facilitate their increased involvement in self-care without the need to compromise cultural values. The expected benefits of culturally sensitive healthcare include improved health outcomes, enhanced mental health, improved health-related knowledge, boosted chronic disease management, as well as increased screening for chronic or dangerous diseases. Overall, CDC’s efforts aimed at promoting cultural sensitivity and awareness within healthcare have been instrumental in helping populations improve their health and wellness habits while accounting for their cultural characteristics.
The Impact of Current Events: COVID-19
The CDC has been among the leading governmental, non-profit organizations to implement research and inform stakeholders and the public about the latest developments concerning COVID-19. From the very beginning of the pandemic, the CDC has been issuing warnings to the public and publishing the most recent and relevant information on how communities can protect themselves from the spreading of the virus. Throughout the course of the pandemic and the research and development of vaccines, the CDC has also been a reputable source of up-to-date and safe information that the public could use when they had their concerns regarding how to behave during COVID-19.
With the emergence of several available vaccines, the CDC has been tasked with approving their use and providing information on the importance of vaccinations and recommendations for their administration. For example, the latest news released by the CDC regarding vaccinations entails the organization’s approval to administer the Pfizer vaccine to children aged between 5 and 11 years old (Neel. Wroth, & Greenhalgh, 2021). The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices had a unanimous vote supporting the use of Pfizer for the specific age group.
Thus, the continuous advancement in the sphere of healthcare regarding COVID-19 precautions is always under the control of the CDC, whether it is regarding easing social distancing restrictions or the impact of the coronavirus on local economies (Ibn-Mohammed et al., 2021). Besides, the CDC has been the leading advisor for political stakeholders within the government concerning health and safety issues during the pandemic and will continue engaging in research and discussions on the topic because of the significant reliance of decision-makers on its expertise.
Public Policy Governing the Organization
The scope of CDC authority is regulated by section 361 of the Public Health Service Act. With the rapidly expanding scale and the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a call to impose public health orders at the federal level and facilitate coordinated governmental action instead of a patchwork of state-level orders. Until the 2019 pandemic, the CDC mainly invoked its authority under section 361 to issue and finetune regulations associated with quarantine. Specifically, the agency specified the conditions and procedures applied to individuals for their medical examination, sample collection, and detainment in case of their exposure to quarantinable communicable diseases (Shen, 2021). For instance, section 361(a) authority was exercised to implement general traveler health screenings and impose requirements on individuals and commercial airlines to implement contract tracing.
However, with the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Section 361 authority allowed to issue orders for airlines to ensure that every passenger traveling with them had received a negative COVID-19 test and could provide documentation reflecting the negative result of the test. Besides, for passengers who had already recovered from coronavirus had to provide documentation from licensed healthcare providers that they were cleared for travel. Therefore, the CDC’s requirements that the organization imposes on the public and businesses are guaranteed by Section 361.
Besides implementing measures to control the health and safety of the population, the organization invoked its Section 361 power more broadly when issuing an order to stop residential evictions throughout the country for tenants making less than $99,000 a year (Shen, 2021). The CARES Act imposing a moratorium on evictions protected renters from being forced to leave their places of residence within a specific time period. By doing so, the CDC aimed not only to stop the interstate spreading of COVID-19 but also to ensure that individuals who may have lost their jobs would not be left without housing (Shen, 2021). The CDC was among the leading agencies supporting the enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 that provided relief to the US citizens in the form of emergency rental assistance as well as housing vouchers for individuals at risk of experiencing homelessness due to various factors (Rice & Oliva, 2021). The examples mentioned above show that Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act allows the CDC to exert significant power over the decision-making when it comes to issues related to the management of COVID-19 in the US.
When it comes to the resources that the Public Health Services Act provides to the CDC, the authority granted used to be invoked in a limited fashion to facilitate the issuing of regulations associated with measures that were specifically included in the provisions. However, the complicated nature of COVID-19 enabled the CDC to impose strict public health orders at the national level (Shen, 2021). Besides granting significant power to issue strict health orders, the Act also provided the CDC with resources to take the lead in alleviating the financial burdens of the population and creating environments conducive to well-being. Through the funds available to the government, the CDC has been able to implement rental assistance and financial support programs to reduce the devastating economic impact of COVID-19.
The collaboration among top professionals in the sphere of epidemiology has also been made possible by the Act under Title 42 appointment. The purpose of such appointments was to attract and retain personnel in the sphere of science through providing higher salaries and flexibility that competes with the private sector. Despite some criticism of Title 42, in the context of the pandemic, the CDC required the participation of as many skilled researchers as possible to develop relevant and effective recommendations regarding public health safety during COVID-19. Overall, the Public Health Services Act gave the CDC the much-needed power and authority to exercise methods to prevent the spreading of COVID-19 in the United States.
The Public Health Services Act should have existed all along because it had clearly established the federal government’s quarantine authority. It enabled the responsibility of the US Public Health Service to prevent the appearance and spreading of communicable diseases from global destinations to the US. With the help of the Act, original authority was given to researchers and special consultants who were appointed without considerations of civil-service laws.
The Benefits and Costs
In general, the authority exercised by the CDC in the areas of public health and safety has been immeasurable in improving populations’ health. Through consistent messaging and ongoing research, the agency has been able to release recommendations to the public as to the best practices of preserving their health and well-being. These efforts were beneficial because the majority of citizens believe in the reputability of the agency and would comply with the rules that it set forth. Besides, through dedication to inclusion and equality, the CDC ensured that those of lower socioeconomic status were not left without government support.
However, the fact that the CDC was vocal about the need to support populations at times of health crisis meant that significant financial resources had to be depleted. Specifically. The American Rescue Plan of 2021 entailed providing $21.55 billion to cover emergency rental assistance and an additional $5 for emergency housing vouchers (Shen, 2021). Besides, the Supreme Court has been reluctant to provide the CDC with statutory authority and make significant decisions on policy, especially when it comes to matters outside the range of its core expertise, as in the instance of halting evictions. The effects of the CDC’s decisions were substantial to the US economy, and the housing sector as a whole, as homeowners could not evict non-paying renters (CDC, 2021). Among the main concerns of the moratorium on evictions were the economic considerations of accruing the unpaid rent, which was estimated to be between $25 and $70 billion (Shen, 2021). Besides, there were risks associated with the potentially high downstream public costs in the form of expenses of providing emergency housing.
To summarize, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a governmental agency tasked with ensuring the health and well-being of populations both in the US and globally. The agency covers public health issues within the context of social, economic, political, and cultural influences, promoting the message of inclusion and equality when it comes to access to high-quality health care. It is also the main governmental agency that communicates important health information to the public and collaborates with international organizations to bring the most up-to-date findings on important health issues to light. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has been at the forefront of responding to the emergent health threat and led the way in research aimed at mitigating and containing the spreading of the virus.
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Neel, J., Wroth, C., & Greenhalgh, J. (2021). CDC recommends Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for children ages 5 through 11. NPR. Web.
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Rice, D., & Oliva, A. (2021). Housing assistance in American Rescue Plan act will prevent millions of evictions, help people experiencing homelessness. Web.
Saul, J., Xu, M., & Sun, Y. (2021). Global supply chains buckle as virus variant and disasters strike. Reuters. Web.
Shen, W. W. (2021). Scope of CDC authority under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA). Web.