NEXT MONTH, the National Center for Health Statistics begins its fourth year as part of the CDC.
Until June 1987, it was under the direct supervision of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (JAMA. 1988;259:336) in the Department of Health and Human Services. But it was argued that there ought to be a much closer relationship with the CDC, although the two agencies go about data collecting differently.
"Of necessity," says Walter R. Dowdle, PhD, CDC deputy director, "ours is quick and dirty. We have to move fast, get what information we can rapidly on a disease outbreak, find out how extensive it is, and determine what might lead to identifying its cause." In regard to chronic disease, for example, he says, "the National Center for Health Statistics can more readily provide the data to show where interventions may be needed, and demonstrate their effectiveness."
A number of