If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as a sorry state as the souls who live under tyranny - Thomas Jefferson
Infectious-disease outbreaks not only have the potential to destabilize societies, they pose a threat to international economies, as well.
What should public-health officials and businesses be doing to prepare?
Physicians Thomas Frieden, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Susan Desmond-Hellmann, chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, sat down with Wall Street Journal Assistant Managing Editor Laura Landro to discuss this issue...
MS. LANDRO: I don’t know how many of you have seen the movie “Contagion.” How close are we to a scenario like that? Something that can’t be contained?
DR. FRIEDEN: Every year on average we identify one new pathogen. And every day on average, we at CDC start a new investigation that could detect a new pathogen.
But frankly, pandemic influenza is what worries us most.
Bill Gates has said there are really only two things that could kill 10 million people around the world. Nuclear war and a biological event, either intentional or natural. It has happened before—in 1918 and 1919, 50 million to 100 million people were killed. Even the 1957 influenza pandemic, which most people haven’t heard of, cost 3% of the world’s gross domestic product. Even SARS, a relatively small outbreak, cost about $30 billion. We don’t know when the next one will come, where it will come from or what it will be. But we’re certain there will be a next one.
MS. LANDRO: How does the Gates Foundation see this in terms of the danger to the world? The idea that business will be disrupted, there will be all sorts of social unrest?
DR. DESMOND-HELLMANN: What we learned from Ebola is that there are a couple things that are underutilized and not ready. One is governance. Who makes the call when things happen? The second thing is having the right tools, which is why global health research-and-development is a big focus of our foundation.
And the last thing is, even though the world is worried about something really super scary like in “Contagion,” we all saw last summer how something like Zika, which wasn’t thought to be a big threat, actually is a particular threat for women who can get pregnant because it causes a catastrophic birth defect.
From a business standpoint, everyone in this room probably had young people who were going to travel on business who were concerned about their risk should they or their partner become pregnant. So understanding these new pathogens, understanding what we need to do from a governance standpoint, and having tools, starting with diagnostics so we can spot new pathogens, are a big focus.
MS. LANDRO: What are the components of a global-health security agenda?
DR. FRIEDEN: We have to find things better, stop them faster and prevent them where possible. And for each of those three aspects of global health security, institutions need to be strengthened and tools need [to be developed].
Everyone should have heard about something called the Joint External Evaluation.
If you want to know if a country is ready to deal with an emergency from the health sector, currently there’s no way to really do that. So what we’ve done over the past few years is get a global consensus on an accountable, independent, objective and transparent public rating of all countries that agree to do it.
It holds the country accountable. It also holds the world accountable. If a poor country isn’t ready, we’re all at more risk. Let’s channel our assistance to close those gaps, because a blind spot anywhere is a vulnerability everywhere.
MS. LANDRO: Dr. Frieden, you did a public-health piece for the New England Journal of Medicine recently in which you said tobacco was still the largest cause of underlying disease in the world.
DR. FRIEDEN: Tobacco use continues to kill millions of people globally—in fact, more than infectious diseases combined. And it can be stopped. If you look at countries and communities that have taken tobacco prevention seriously, they’ve been able to drastically reduce tobacco use.
Mike Bloomberg and his foundation, along with the Gates Foundation, worked to come up with a very concrete set of policies to help countries drive down smoking rates. In New York City, we were able to help 400,000 people quit smoking in just a few years, saving over 100,000 lives and extending life expectancy by three years over just a few years.
DR. DESMOND-HELLMANN: It is a profoundly positive intervention.
The other intervention we’ve invested in is nutrition. Globally, we see both overnutrition and undernutrition and poor nutrition. Very simple things like exclusive breast-feeding for six months, making sure pregnant women have access to good nutrition, understanding micronutrients and what’s needed—these kinds of global health interventions are incredibly cost-effective. That magic time of your first 1,000 days from conception isn’t just important for your stature, it’s important for your cognitive development. These are the kinds of things that emerging countries—and businesses working in those countries—are extremely interested in. Because that is your future workforce and your future consumers.
DR. FRIEDEN: And this is very relevant to health-care costs. A nonsmoker costs drastically less to care for than a smoker. An ex-smoker costs at least $1,000 less to care for each year than a smoker. In the U.S. today, there are 10 million fewer smokers than there were in 2009. And if you think of the payoff, how much higher our health-care costs would be if that weren’t the case, it’s quite substantial.
Source: Laura Landro, What Global Disease Threat Worries Public-Health Officials Most?, The Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2016.
Funding for health campaigns is surprisingly low when you consider they’re often so valuable that they pay for themselves.
Heatwaves, disease-carrying insects and prolonged allergies are some of the early symptoms noted in a major new report.
Infectious-disease outbreaks not only have the potential to destabilize societies, they pose a threat to international economies, as well. What should public-health officials and businesses be doing to prepare?
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO is also a source of knowledge and information.
Greenpeace exists because this fragile earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs action.
UNICEF was created with this purpose in mind to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child's path. We believe that we can, together, advance the cause of humanity.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity.
WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.
While highly regarded, Canada’s health-care system is expensive and faces several challenges. These challenges will only be exacerbated by the changing health landscape in an aging society - Chris Simpson et al
Being in good health is one of the main concerns of European citizens. The European Union (EU) is therefore striving to attain a higher level of health protection through all European policies and activities, in accordance with Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
EPHA is an international non-profit association registered in Belgium. Our membership is composed of not-for-profit organisations working on all aspects of public health. EPHA''s mission is to promote and protect the health of all people living in Europe and to advocate for greater participation of citizens in health-related policy making at the European level.
“When the NHS was founded it was intended to keep the workforce healthy, reduce premature death and allow a dignified end for everyone,” said Robert Freeman, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon. “There has been significant mission creep since and the NHS now has a much broader scope with a focus on prolonging life almost irrespective of quality.”
The success or failure of any government in the final analysis must be measured by the well-being of its citizens. Nothing can be more important to a state than its public health; the state's paramount concern should be the health of its people - Franklin Delano Roosevelt
AHD emphasizes quality care, dignified services, and self-sustainability. It is AHD's believe that, as a component of social justice, all people have a right to access a certain standard of healthcare services.
In Spanish. Agency responsible for public health.
Australia's health system is world class, supporting universal and affordable access to high quality medical, pharmaceutical and hospital services, while helping people to stay healthy through health promotion and disease prevention activities.
In Croatian. Agency responsible for public health.
In Czech. Agency responsible for public health.
Health care provision in Denmark is to a very great extent a public task, as 85% of health care costs are financed through taxes. The responsibility for running the service is decentralised, and mostly lies with the regional authorities. But in fulfilling this task they work in close cooperation with the Government and the Local Authorities.
The mission of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is to ensure the Finnish people a healthy living environment, their good health and well-being, adequate living and social security in all phases of life.
In French. Agency responsible for public health.
In German. Agency responsible for public health and welfare.
In Greek. Agency responsible for public health.
Agency responsible for the health and welfare of Japan's citizens.
In Korean. Agency responsible for public health.
Department focuses on disease control, family health, food safety and health education.
In Spanish. Agency responsible for ensuring the health of its citizens.
"Caring for people in a healthy society" - under this motto the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport develops policy in the fields of health care, social care and sports.
The Ministry of Health aims to ensure that the health and disability support system works for all New Zealanders. As principal advisor to the government on health and disability policy, we lead and support the sector to achieve better health for New Zealanders, and reduce inequalities.
Public supervision in Norway is about ensuring that health and social services are provided in accordance with national acts and regulations.
In Spanish. Agency responsible for ensuring the health of its citizens.
The Department of Health (DOH) is the principal health agency in the Philippines. It is responsible for ensuring access to basic public health services to all Filipinos through the provision of quality health care and regulation of providers of health goods and services.
The Ministry of Health has established this website in order to maintain the best relationship with the public and utilize the latest technologies in providing the best health services.
Our vision is bo be the leading innovative authority protecting and advancing national health and safety.
To contribute to social and economic development of Sri Lanka by achieving the highest attainable health status through promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services of high quality made available and accessible to people of Sri Lanka.
The work of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs covers basic welfare issues and a broad policy field - economic security, social services, health and medical care, public health and the rights of children and people with disabilities.
The overriding aim of the FOPH is to promote and maintain the good health of all people living in Switzerland. On the one hand, it seeks to promote people's awareness and thereby enable them to take responsibility for their own health. On the other, it wants a general and consistent improvement of everyone''s health through health promotion, disease prevention and health protection campaigns and the curing of illnesses and alleviation of suffering caused by disease and accidents.
Agency responsible for public health.
Health protection is one of the priority directions in the state activity. Ministry of Public Health of Ukraine (MPHU) is a leading body in the system of central organs of the executive power for the realization of state policy in the sphere of public health, sanitary and epidemiological well-being of the population.
The current vision and mission of MOH includes the following: unify the health policies in the country, develop a comprehensive nationwide health service, ensure health services remain accessible across the country and encourage all health providers excel in standards of excellence.