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World Must Prepare Now For Future, Yet Unknown, Global Disease Outbreaks

The Hill: 100 years after the influenza pandemic — are we prepared for another epidemic?
Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)

“…Now 100 years [after the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic], our capacity to protect ourselves is vastly improved but we are still remarkably vulnerable to an outbreak of a deadly virus. … It was the inadequacy of the world’s response [to the 2014 Ebola epidemic] that led directly to the creation of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) … Our goal is to finance and coordinate vaccine development to protect ourselves from future epidemics. … The reason we need this now more than ever is that pathogens are spreading faster and emerging more frequently than ever before due to ecological changes, urbanization, and increased mobility. … We cannot prevent pathogens from emerging, but we can prevent the devastation they can cause, through better preparedness and a faster response. To be most effective, however, we need to work together. U.S. citizens will benefit from the world’s collective efforts to prepare against pandemics because, as we learn again and again, dangerous pathogens do not respect borders” (3/17).

The Guardian: Are we prepared for the looming epidemic threat?
Jonathan D. Quick, senior fellow at Management Sciences for Health and board chair of the Global Health Council

“…Many leaders, economists, and scientists believe that the risk of potentially devastating epidemics could be prevented for a fraction of the cost of battling an out of control global pandemic. The obvious question is this: why aren’t we deploying absolutely everything we have to make sure that the next disease outbreak doesn’t turn into a global catastrophe? There are three broad answers. First, there’s fear. … We respond to the fear of epidemic disease by wanting to blame someone else. … Second is denial and complacency, which often starts at the top, with political leaders or public health officials who reject the reality before them. … Finally, financial self-interest: … How many times do governments and leaders plead that there is no budget for preparedness? … Not recognizing these failings — and not doing everything we can in spite of them to prevent a potentially staggering loss of life and livelihood — would be not just irresponsible, but criminal. … We know how to stop the next epidemic. This is no excuse for unpreparedness. If we are to save ourselves and our children we must act decisively. The threat is real. The pathway is known. The time for action is now” (3/18).

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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.