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Economic Factors, Political Systems Cannot Predict Susceptibility To Disease Outbreaks

Washington Post: What the HIV/AIDS epidemic can tell us about how to fight Zika
Mark Daku, postdoctoral fellow at the Montreal Health Equity Research Consortium at the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University

“Are some countries — and some political systems — more at risk for bad health and epidemics than others? … [W]hile political and economic factors do matter, they’re not the only factors. Political systems alone cannot predict where a disease will spread, or which country will be more or less susceptible to an epidemic. … I researched the politics of AIDS in Africa to understand why Uganda was able to successfully control HIV, while South Africa failed. … In other words, political and economic factors interact with viruses and vectors in unpredictable ways to spread — or prevent — disease. If the goal is to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, we need to do more than ask, ‘What worked there?’ We need to ask, ‘Why did that work there when it did?’ We need to better understand how disease epidemics interact with social and political realities. That’s how to find lessons that may help contain and control future outbreaks of disease” (3/7).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.