Clinical Practice: ACOG, the CDC, and the Ebola Crisis
ACOG and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a long history of close collaboration, particularly during public health crises. At the beginning of the Ebola outbreak, we quickly began working together to provide critically needed timely guidance. ACOG Immunization staff and the chairs of ACOG’s Immunization Expert Work Group and Committee on Obstetric Practice reached out to CDC colleagues about the need for guidance, including an algorithm, to address care for obstetric patients, screening, and isolation. ACOG and the CDC regularly communicated for weeks to address these considerations for pregnant women and to provide guidance for ob-gyns. The results:
To keep ACOG members and the healthcare community up to date, we created a new section of ACOG.org: Ebola and Women’s Health and on ACOG’s Immunization for Women website. Both are updated regularly.
Collaborating for Public Health
The Ebola crisis is the latest result of a long, productive relationship between our two organizations. During the H1N1 pandemic in 2009–10, ACOG and the CDC collaborated extensively to address the serious morbidity and mortality experienced by pregnant women, which was six times as high as other groups. ACOG brought obstetric issues and the needs of ob-gyns and their pregnant patients to the attention of the CDC, which in turn addressed these issues in its obstetric recommendations. These were being issued and updated expeditiously. ACOG rapidly disseminated this CDC guidance to its members.
ACOG and the CDC also enjoy liaison relationships to address other obstetric and gynecologic issues and guidelines on an ongoing basis. ACOG has appointed representatives to CDC projects, such as the Preconception Steering Committee, and has contributed to the CDC’s adaptation of the World Health Organization’s Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use and Selected Practice Recommendations for Contraceptive Use. CDC liaisons also serve on several standing ACOG committees, task forces, and work groups, such as the Committee on Obstetric Practice, the Committee on Gynecologic Practice, the Committee on Adolescent Healthcare, the Immunization Expert Work Group, and the HIV Expert Work Group.
These liaisons allows our two organizations to act quickly when a public health emergency requires it. For example, the CDC liaison on ACOG’s Committee on Obstetric Practice was instrumental in bringing the recent listeriosis outbreaks and concerns for pregnant women to ACOG’s attention. A Committee Opinion entitled Management of Pregnant Women with Presumptive Exposure to Listeria monocytogenes was fast-tracked and published online ahead of print in Obstetrics & Gynecology on August 6, 2014, to provide this new information to ob-gyns and their patients.
Our strong history of collaboration with the CDC allows us to move quickly in the face of emergent public health outbreaks to protect women’s health.