"CDC’s most important achievements in 2013 are the outbreaks that didn’t happen, the diseases that were stopped before they crossed our borders, and the countless lives saved from preventable chronic diseases and injuries," the agency wrote in its 2013 summary of accomplishments.
But while it looked back at proud moments in the year just ended, the public health organization also noted its prime concerns for 2014, including the potential loss of effective antibiotics to combat bacterial infections. Many of those are becoming resistant to the medications.
The top five successes of 2013 for the CDC:
— The Tips from Former Smokers ad campaign helped more than 100,000 smokers stop. The ads included people who were hurt by secondhand smoke and smokers who suffered serious health damage, like a man diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at age 44 and a woman who battled oral and throat cancers before age 40. The latter ad is graphic and disturbing. The woman, who no longer has her own voice, talks about recording your voice for your children.
— Using Advanced Molecular Detection initiatives, CDC stopped a Listeria outbreak. Listeria is a foodborne illness that can kill, and about 1,600 people are sickened by it each year. AMD helps determine which illnesses are related to a Listeriosis outbreak related to contaminated cheese, so they can be treated faster.
— CDC tackled strokes and heart attacks with an education campaign called the Million Hearts® Initiative. The goal is to head off one million heart attacks.
— More than one million babies who were born to HIV-infected moms over the course of 10 years were spared getting the infection, and 6.7 million people were placed on treatment as part of the international U.S. President's Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief.
— CDC also went after infections that had become rampant in hospitals by using evidence-based medicine to establish preventive measures. In 2013, it said, bloodstream infections in patients with central lines had dropped 44 percent from 2008 levels, surgical site infections were down 20 percent and new procedures halved bloodstream infections for people receiving dialysis.
Looking ahead to 2014, the health officials worry about "slow uptake" of the vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus, which can cause cancer. They also single out a rise in prescription opiate addiction and the risk of overdose and death, along with "the perfect storm of emerging infectious disease threats worldwide, and the final push for global polio eradication."
“While our biggest successes may be the bad things that did not happen, careful assessment of what we did well — and what we might do better — is essential for continued success,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden in a written statement.
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