Epidemic Readiness Still Out of Reach

While in some ways technology has changed so much about the world today, it has not been able to erase the vulnerability of diverse populations globally to pandemics, outbreaks, and epidemics that costs lives and undercuts economic growth.

  • In 2016, 1,436 people died due to epidemics, and the global economy lost an estimated $562 billion, which is roughly equivalent to 1.3 percent of global income. This places epidemics on par with some major natural disasters in terms of economic cost.
  • In the last several years alone we have also witnessed outbreaks of Zika in Brazil, Ebola in Africa, Cholera in Yemen, with unique local effects and long-lasting questions for the science community to answer regarding contagion, response, and long-term health consequences.
As the world population continue to grows, and with it the population density of major cities that can exacerbate health crises, microbes continue to mutate, becoming resistant to drugs and increase the risk of epidemics. This requires more and more investment in epidemic preparedness (e.g. health and non-health interventions, capabilities, and capacities) and coordination of information and resources among all stakeholders, local to global.
  • Specific preparedness measures experienced workers involved in previous epidemics have proposed include better telecom capacity in afflicted areas, more robust, targeted medical supply chains, and improved data sharing, all before the next epidemic strikes.
  • Learn more about how the World Economic Forum, for example, is approaching this global issue under its Epidemics Readiness Accelerator.
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