Pandemics, which are large disease outbreaks that affect several countries, pose major health, social, and economic risks. Today, the threat of a pandemic spreading around the globe is a real one – a quick-moving pathogen has the potential to kill tens of millions of people, disrupt economies, and destabilize national security. Climate change, urbanization, and the lack of water and sanitation are all factors that could contribute to fast-spreading, catastrophic outbreaks.
A severe pandemic can result in millions of deaths, and even the most conservative estimates suggest that pandemics destroy up to 1% of global GDP, which is comparable to other top-priority threats, such as climate change. Strong health systems that reach all people—especially the most vulnerable—with effective services are the only way to ensure protection from major disease outbreaks. That is why ensuring and investing in preparedness before a crisis strikes saves lives and saves money.
Despite progress made since the West Africa Ebola crisis in 2014/15, a new report from the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), an independent body co-convened by the World Bank and World Health Organization, finds that despite the increasingly dire risk of widespread epidemics, the world remains unprepared. In its 2019 report, A World At Risk, the GPMB warns that epidemic-prone diseases like Ebola, influenza and SARS are increasingly difficult to manage in the face of prolonged conflict, fragile states, and forced migration.
Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) also poses a significant and growing health and financial threat to countries at all income levels. AMR occurs when bacteria and parasites cannot be treated by medicines that were previously effective. Investing in strengthening health systems and preparedness for pandemics and other infectious disease outbreaks is one of the best ways to contain antimicrobial resistance.
Last Updated: Oct 15, 2019