Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How to Fight the Next Epidemic: An Op-Ed by Bill Gates

This is a great op-ed piece written by Bill Gates as it really puts into perspective what we need to be tackling.
Check it out here

In the end, he calls for 3 big things

  1. Global warning and response system for outbreaks. This means strengthening poor countries' health systems. This means building clinics and training local health workers and doctors. This would go hand in hand with 2.
  2. Disease surveillance. He calls for a database of al cases that will help predict epidemics and allow us to deal with them immediately. I know the NIH is funding EcoHealth Alliance working on the PREDICT project to develop a system for this. Nathan Wolfe was working on this with Global Viral, but they've taken a new direction now
  3. More money towards research and development of drugs and vaccines.

To close, he calls out the United Nations to fund a global institution to coordinate these efforts. I think this should be a new branch of the WHO so everything is integrated together. He leaves us with a scary number. $3 trillion. That is how much the world bank predicts a worldwide flu epidemic would reduce global wealth by. 

People say there's no money in Global health or diseases. Setting up these systems would not only save 10s of millions of lives (he says most likely thing to do this is an epidemic) but also save us trillions of dollars potentially.

Now tackling these problems are just insane. For setting up the global warning and response system. I'd like to see the WHO work with MSF to scale them up even higher. Make a doctors corp that is larger and ready to go whenever. The most important and hardest thing of #1 is strengthening local health infrastructure when countries' political leadership don't support it. More urgency needs to be dealt towards the PREDICT project and I hope the WHO gets involved in it too. Basically, I agree with Gates in that we need someone to step up and I think it needs to be the WHO. but they need the money. I mean the STANFORD HOSPITAL has a larger budget than the WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION. That's just ridiculous. So where is this money going to come from?

- Jimmy

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