Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Monday, March 27, 2017 02:39:44 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Infectious diseases pose great risk to global healthcare

By
17th-Mar-2017       Readers ( 91 )   0 Comments
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all (0) »

Dambisa Moyo :
Global business leaders and investors are largely transfixed by two kinds of risk: macroeconomic and geopolitical. In the near term, this means a focus on the US Federal Reserve's impending rate hikes and the upcoming elections in France and Germany. Over the longer term, it means awareness of structural risks like high sovereign debt, demographic shifts, and natural-resource scarcity. But there is a third, arguably more pernicious, risk lurking below most decision-makers' radar: infectious diseases.
According to the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tom Frieden, the world is at greater risk than ever from global health threats. People travel farther and more often. Supply chains, including for food and medicines, extend across the world. A poorly treated case of, say, tuberculosis (TB) in Asia or Africa can present in a hospital in the United States within days.
Scientists are concerned about the recent uptick in epidemics of diseases such as Zika, Ebola, and avian flu. And they are alarmed by the resurgence of life-threatening diseases such as influenza, HIV, malaria, and TB.
To be sure, in terms of fatalities, recent disease outbreaks and pandemics are a far cry from past global flu epidemics. Whereas the 2003 SARS epidemic resulted in 774 deaths, and the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2015 left 11,310 dead, the 1918-1920 flu epidemic claimed the lives of 100 million people - more than five times the number killed in the world war that had just ended. Indeed, some 5 per cent of the world's population perished.
But the risks from infectious diseases that we face today could intensify substantially, owing to the rise of anti-microbial resistance (AMR). According to the World Health Organization, "480,000 people develop multi-drug resistant TB each year, and drug resistance is starting to complicate the fight against HIV and malaria, as well." Antibiotic resistance, the WHO cautions, is now present in every country, putting patients at risk of worse clinical outcomes and at greater risk of death, while increasing the burden on health systems.
England's chief medical officer, Sally Davies, has warned that, if left unchecked, the growing impotence of drugs could be catastrophic. By 2050, she estimates, drug-resistant infections could be killing someone "every three seconds." The Review on AMR estimates that, at that point, some 10 million lives could be lost each year, at a cumulative cost to global economic output of $100 trillion. To put that into perspective, world GDP today totals $74 trillion per year. Yet the potential long-term human and economic consequences of AMR of are not widely appreciated by the public and, in particular, by financial markets. In fact, protection 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 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.
More people died of cancer in the US last year than in combat. In fact, last year's 580,000 cancer deaths exceed the roughly 430,000 battle deaths, on average, in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War. Yet government spending on cancer averages approximately $4 billion per year. That is just over 0.5 per cent of the annual military budget of roughly $718 billion.
Of course, government budget-allocation decisions are complicated and dogged by political imperatives. The US military employs some three million people, making it the single largest employer in the world, and there is substantial political pressure from some constituencies to place the highest priority on America's military dominance.
But it is not just a matter of how much is spent; it is also a matter of when. Governments don't wait for war to break out before investing in the military. Yet they do tend to wait for crises to erupt before they invest in fighting infectious diseases.
The world spent $15 billion on its emergency response to the SARS epidemic and $40 billion on its response to Ebola. In 1918, the crisis response to the flu pandemic cost some $17.5 trillion. Had countries spent more on mitigating the risk of such disease outbreaks - for example, by fortifying their health-care systems and promoting responsible use of antibiotics - those huge emergency payouts may not have been necessary. At the very least, they probably would have been smaller.
In this sense, the fight against infectious diseases closely resembles the fight against climate change. Though the threat 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.

(Dambisa Moyo is an economist and author). - Project Syndicate

0 Comments. Share your thoughts also.
Write a comment
Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

We must prove worthy of people`s supreme sacrifice


THE nation celebrates the 47th Independence and National Day today although we achieved our real independence on the Victory Day on December 16 when the country was freed from Pakistani occupation forces in 1971. March 26th is observed as the day of Declaration of Independence that led the nation to ...

Football »

Mexico`s Jurgen Damm controls the ball during a 2018 Russia World Cup qualifying soccer match between Mexico and Costa Rica at Azteca stadium in Mexico City on Friday. Mexico won the match 2-0.


City »

Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, among others, stands in a solemn silence marking the Genocide Day at Shikha Chirantan (Eternal Flame) in the city's Suhrawardy Udyan on Saturday.


Entertainment »

Aupee Karim returns as host


Entertainment Desk :Famous actress, model and dancer, Aupee Karim is all set to host a show again after a long time. Titled Surjodoyer Gaan, the program she will be hosting will feature five special songs, paying tribute to the martyrs of the Liberation War. The program has been made under ...

International »

Modi befriends Trump as Putin and Xi move closer together


Newsweek :Are we witnessing seismic shifts in the Russia-India-China triangle? It would seem so-but the shifts are long in the making.Historically, Indo-Russian relations have been far stronger than Sin-Russian relations. In recent years, however, and especially since the onset of the crisis in Ukraine in 2014, the dynamics of this ...

International »

Troubled EU seeks unity in Rome on 60th birthday


AFP, Rome : European Union leaders celebrated the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding treaties at a special summit in Rome on Saturday in a symbolic show of unity despite Britain's looming departure.Meeting without Britain, the other 27 member countries will endorse a declaration of intent for the next decade, on ...

Cricket »

Happy birthday to Shakib Al Hasan


Hadn't he born, Bangladesh cricket team would have deprived of many outstanding victories.Number one all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who demonstrated his magical batting and bowling displays many times to ensure victories for the Tigers, stepped into 31st year on Friday.However, he was celebrating his birthday with his teammates in Sri ...

Editorial »

Fire at BB head office raises many questions


THE fire incident at Bangladesh Bank has come as a renewed shock to the nation prompting questions from many quarters how the central bank is falling is so insecure as a highly sensitive establishment from national security perspective. The incident just within one year of the sensational money heist of ...

Entertainment »

Moushumi`s film career turns two eras today


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :On March 25, Friday of 1993, viewers for the first time watched today’s popular film actress Moushumi on the screen in movie Keyamat Theke Keyamat. It was made by Sohanur Rahman Sohan and it was produced under the banner of Ananda Mela Cinema Ltd. Late popular hero ...

City »

Fire fighters making frantic efforts to extinguish the fire which was originated at Rafas Tower in the city`s Karwanbazar on Friday.


International »

Iraqi forces prepare new push, tactics in Mosul as civilians flee city


Reuters, Mosul :Iraqi forces are preparing a fresh push against Islamic State using new tactics, but operations to drive the militants out of their last stronghold in the country are on hold, military officials said on Friday.Families streamed out of the northern Iraqi city during the lull in fighting, part ...

International »

Merkel does not expect more EU departures after Brexit


Reuters, Berlin :Chancellor Angela Merkel does not fear that more countries will leave the European Union, she told a German newspaper as the bloc's leaders prepare to celebrate 60 years of union on Saturday days before Britain files for divorce.Prime Minister Theresa May will next Wednesday launch a two-year countdown ...

Editorial »

We mourn with brave British people who will not waver


THE very fact that Western cities are yet extremely vulnerable to extremists "Lone-wolf" attacks was once again proved on Wednesday when such an attacker drove a vehicle randomly along London's Westminster Bridge towards the Houses of Parliament - killing five including a police officer and maiming innocent bystanders as the ...

Cricket »

Miraz drafted in Tigers' ODI squad


Off-spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz has been included in the Bangladesh ODI squad for the three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka. Miraz is scheduled to reach Colombo later today, said a BCB press release on Thursday.Meanwhile, off break bowler Naeem Hasan, who made his first class debut for Chittagong Division in ...

City »

Former President of Chhatra League Noor-e-Alam Siddiqui speaking at a discussion organised by 'Prakton Chhatra League Foundation' at the Jatiya Press Club on Thursday marking Flag Day.


 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news