pandemics

This article was first published on the Brookings Institute Future Development Blog, found here.

When epidemics or pandemics hit, they usually hit the poor first and worst. We have known this for a while. The German pathologist Rudolf Virchow described this link between poverty and vulnerability to outbreaks in his 1848 study of a typhus epidemic in Upper Silesia: "For there can now no longer be any doubt that such an epidemic dissemination of typhus had only been possible under the wretched conditions of life that poverty and lack of culture had created in Upper Silesia."

What we have not known, until recently, is how best to help the poor protect themselves from pandemics.

To understand why the poor are more vulnerable to epidemics and pandemics and what protections are required, we need to consider how outbreaks first start, how they spread, and how they affect individuals and societies.

Last week, the World Health Organization elected Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as its next Director General. Amid his controversial campaign, I coauthored an open letter to the next Director General to prioritize factory farming, an eminent threat to global health.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

This post appears in its entirety on HuffPost Impact.

Pandemics are back on the agenda for the 2016 G7 Summit, which convenes this week in Ise-Shima, Japan. The Group of Seven is expected to further its commitments to global health security.

Look what has happened in less than one year since the G7 last met (June 2015), just after the Ebola crisis peaked at over 26,300 cases, 10,900 deaths.

A hurricane superstorm slams the Caribbean and the eastern seaboard of the United States, flooding Manhattan’s subway system, leaving lower Manhattan and Brooklyn without electricity for days and destroying much of Staten Island. The storm kills hundreds of people, destroys thousands of homes, and causes over $65 billion in damage. Prior to October 2012, this scenario read like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster. But now we know these were the very real effects of hurricane Sandy.

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