Governments, Investors Should Act Now To Mitigate Risk Of Infectious Disease Threats

Project Syndicate: The Mispriced Risk of Infectious Diseases
Dambisa Moyo, economist, author, and member of the board of directors of a number of global corporations

“…[P]rotection from public health threats is one vital area where markets do not deliver efficiently. As a result, it is governments that usually bear the costs of prevention and treatment. With government budgets already overstretched, coping with the intensifying health burden from [antimicrobial resistance (AMR)] will be difficult, to say the least. Yet governments are unlikely to move fast to mitigate this risk. On the contrary, experience indicates that governments often struggle to align public spending with underlying or mounting problems, such as public health threats, until they reach a crisis point. … Though the threat [of infectious diseases and AMR] is substantial, it is not immediate, so governments continue to pursue other priorities, allowing the threat to grow, largely out of sight. As a result, it is not adequately priced into the markets. When the crisis finally erupts, the true scale of the threat will become clear. But by that point, it will be much more difficult and expensive to contain, resulting in far more casualties. Unfortunately, that point may be closer than anyone — government or investor — expects” (3/10).