Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What is the CDC?

From Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC, pg. 38, by J.B. McCormick, M.D., S. Fisher-Hoch, M.D., and L.A. Horvitz. Here McCormick relates a story from a trip to Sierra Leone in March, 1976, as part of an effort to deal with the Lassa Fever virus.

[....] When we were introduced to the secretary of health for Sierra Leone, his first question was: “What is the CDC? Does that stand for the Colonial Development Company?”

Not exactly a splendid start.

After we explained our purpose, the secretary wanted to know what the annual budget of the CDC was.

“Well,” Karl replied, “it’s about $120 million.”

His jaw dropped. He couldn’t believe it. The annual budget for the entire nation of Sierra Leone wasn’t that big. Then he sat back, studying us thoughtfully. He decided it was well worth his while to be collaborating on a project with such a lucratively endowed partner.

It’s nice to think of Americans showing up some place and dispelling old fears about us, and of us taking the long-view of a problem (in this case: don’t wait for a pathogen to arrive in America before trying to understand it and provide a treatment or cure) to the benefit of everyone. No charge. That’s my kind of America.

1 comment:

  1. Yes. There's still a lot of that America about, beneath all the ranting and posturing. -- Adam