The director of Israel’s Centers for Disease Control visited her counterpart in Atlanta Oct. 23 during a trip aimed at solidifying connections between the two organizations.
Tamar Shohat met with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield as she sought to “absorb” new knowledge and innovations while leading a two-person delegation.
The Israel CDC already contributes to global research studies conducted by the U.S. CDC on infectious diseases like influenza, Dr. Shohat told Global Atlanta in a phone interview.
But part of the trip’s objective was to learn about methodologies for studying and cataloguing noncommunicable illnesses like cancer, stroke and diabetes — a specialty of the Israeli CDC. Both organizations have national cancer registries and a commitment to using health data to improve treatment options, said Dr. Shohat, who helped found the ICDC in 1994 and has led it since 2008.
The Israeli CDC, she added, is unique in its ability to collect such data, given that the country of 8.5 million people has universal health insurance, with practically the entire population enrolled on just four HMO networks. Electronic health records have been in place for nearly two decades. In the U.S., data is much more fragmented among insurers and providers and the digitization of records has taken longer. Israel also has the benefit of a highly diverse population, she said.
Ms. Shohat said part of her goal was to learn best practices on survey techniques — for instance, how to conduct surveys on mobile devices versus traditional phone surveys.
Better data — especially made available for use by companies and researchers — equals better treatment options, she said.
“Our main goal is to share our data with as many people as possible, whether it’s the public, academic institutions, private institutions. It’s all for the good of the public.”
She added that the Israel CDC hopes to revive dormant partnerships with the Emory University School of Public Health in hopes of fostering faculty and student exchanges.
“That will be an achievement if we come to this point,” she said.
Ms. Shohat was hosted by the Consulate General of Israel in Atlanta during her visit, which came just weeks after the announcement that an incubator for Israeli medical device companies would be launched in Atlanta.
“We had an important meeting speaking about the cooperation between the CDC and the ICDC about the exchange of expertise on an annual basis on various spheres between the two organization,” said Ambassador Judith Varnai Shorer, consul general of Israel to the Southeast, in a statement.