Preparedness Key To Containing Pandemics
Devex: Opinion: Pandemics are the world’s silent killers. We need new ways to contain them.
Robert Muggah, director of research at the Igarapé Institute and the SecDev Foundation, adviser for the Global Parliament of Mayors, member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Cities and Urbanization, and fellow at the Global Affairs Institute and the WEF Global Agenda Council on Fragility
“One of humanity’s gravest existential threats is invisible. Pandemics are silent killers and have prematurely ended the lives of more people than virtually any other cause. … Pandemics are essentially epidemics that are communicable and cross an international boundary affecting a large number of people. … At least five underlying factors seem to be quickening up the risk of pandemics. The first factor contributing to the increase in pandemics is globalization … A second factor is increasingly high-density living … The third factor is massive environmental degradation. … A fourth factor, climate change, is increasingly being linked to the acceleration of infectious disease transmission, especially malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika. … Finally, population displacement due to war, disaster, development schemes, and the pursuit of better economic opportunities increases the movement of vectors and vulnerability to pandemic threats. … Preparedness is the watchword for the 21st century. While progress is being made, most states are still failing to meet minimum international standards to detect, assess, report, or respond to major public health threats. When outbreaks hit, as they surely will, responses are still likely to be absent, delayed, or stretched too thin. The cycle of neglect, carelessness, and panic that follow pandemics is lethal — not just on the frontline where outbreaks occur, but to populations across the planet” (3/8).