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Authors

  1. Perrotta, Dennis M. PhD
  2. Lemmings, Jennifer MPH
  3. Maillard, Jean-Marie MD, MSc

Abstract

Context: In late 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requested the support of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists to enhance epidemiologic capacity in the West African countries impacted or threatened by an outbreak of Ebola virus disease. In response, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists recruited 36 senior epidemiologists who, collectively, made 45 deployments to West Africa, averaging 42 days each.

 

Objective: To assess the self-reported experiences and contributions of the deployed epidemiologists, as well as the role of nonprofit public health organizations in large-scale emergency response.

 

Design: Electronic assessment of the deployed epidemiologists.

 

Participants: Experienced applied public health epidemiologists who volunteered to participate in the response to the West Africa Ebola virus disease emergency.

 

Main Outcome Measures: Descriptive data.

 

Results: The chief, reported functional contributions made during deployments include improving surveillance processes (reported by 73.3% of respondents), building meaningful relationships to facilitate response activities (66.7%), improving data quality (53.3%), and improving understanding of the disease/outbreak (40.0%). Among the professional benefits of deployment to West Africa to assist with Ebola virus disease outbreak response are stimulating enthusiasm for public health work (93.3%, n = 30), broadened perspective of global health (86.7%), and sharpened epidemiological skills (56.7%).

 

Conclusions: Owing to their ability to access experienced, senior professionals, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists and other nonprofit public health associations can play a meaningful role boosting surge capacity in a sustained, large-scale emergency response.