Health, global security and international stability are inextricably linked. And our globalised, urbanised and at the same time politically fragmented world has never been as prone to pandemics as it is today. Wolfgang Ischinger and Stefan Oschmann present five points that are critical in order to be better prepared for situations like these in the future.
By Stefan Oschmann and Wolfgang Ischinger – The number of coronavirus cases as reported on the website of Johns Hopkins University continues to skyrocket. The International Monetary Fund is preparing the world for a massive recession.
Governments around the world have mobilized incredible sums of money in order to strengthen healthcare systems in the short term and to cushion the economic consequences of the crisis in the long term. Without a doubt, health crises can pose a serious threat to all of humanity, one no less serious than the dangers of atomic weapons, terrorism or the impact of climate change.
The fact that health, security and stability are inextricably linked is not a new realization. The devastating consequences of pandemics – from the plague to the Spanish flu – are a firm part of human history.
Yet they are still being massively underestimated – despite the fact that our globalized, urbanized and at the same time politically fragmented world has never been as prone to pandemics as it is today.
At the moment, the focus is on acute crisis management. How can a lockdown be managed? When and how can a return to normalcy be responsibly permitted? And what exactly will the new normal look like?
These topics are currently being widely discussed, and rightly so. With this article, however, we want to point out that it is also necessary to plan beyond this period. We should urgently think about the following five points:
First: Overall, the global community has not succeeded in breaking the cycle of panic and neglect that characterizes the way in which it responds to pandemics. No doubt, after SARS 2002/03, significant progress was made in the areas of pandemic preparedness, in research and development as well as in vaccine development.
Countries such as China have considerably strengthened their healthcare systems. Yet unfortunately, this was not enough. At the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in 2017, Bill Gates spoke about the sad irony that the global costs of a pandemic massively eclipse the expenditure needed to successfully prevent a global pandemic.
According to Gates, the cost of ensuring adequate pandemic preparedness worldwide is estimated at US$ 3.4 billion a year, while the projected annual loss from a pandemic could run as high as US$ 570 billion.
The amounts being called up right now for global crisis management show that at the time, these estimates were a rather conservative estimate of the potential follow-on costs. One thing is clear: Pandemic preparedness is an absolute must and pays off, not only in financial terms. There is no price as high as the one we are paying right now as a global community. more>