Scientists, and other researchers, spend much of their time developing ways to prevent possible disasters, both natural and unnatural, from taking place. History is famous for repeating itself, and there have been several recorded pandemics that were responsible for the deaths of a large percentage of the population. The Spanish Flu outbreak, in 1918, is one of the most deadly examples. An incredibly contagious form of influenza, this virus affected everybody and spread to some of the most remote parts of the planet. It is estimated that, over the course of two years, the Spanish Flu killed between 50-100 million people worldwide.
Although our medical techniques, and pharmaceuticals, have advanced significantly since the early 20th century; The General Director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom, has addressed the fact that we are still as unprepared for a pandemic as we were at the beginning of the 20th century. The dreaded event could begin in any country and spread quickly, before most nations were aware of its presence. Although this is a scenario we have witnessed many times in horror books, and films, the possibility of it happening in real life is much higher than most of us would like to admit.
Tedros pointed out that, ‘Universal health coverage is the greatest threat to global health.’ He went on to explain that as many as 3.5 billion people still do not have access to essential health services. Others that can attain the services are often forced into poverty, because of the high costs of this care. To avoid this problem many people neglect seeking medical treatment, even when it is necessary. This results in many illnesses progressing further than can be treated, and an unnecessary spreading of infectious diseases. This negligence could result in the earliest signs of an outbreak being overlooked.
Each country’s health organization relies on funding from their government to monitor the spread of diseases, as well as ensure the proper treatment. The (CDC) Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, has recently announced that its budget for the epidemic prevention programs is being cut by 80%. In light of a possibly outbreak occurring at any moment, other countries are also experiencing the same difficulties. This demonstrates that governments are viewing healthcare as an unnecessary cost, instead of a necessary investment.
Tedros pointed out that healthy citizens are an advantage to the economy of any country. It has been proven that proper healthcare from children are in the womb, which is continued throughout their childhood, helps to make them stronger members of society. He also noted that at the moment a possible pandemic couldn’t be predicted, but dreads the terrible toll it would take on humanity. Despite there being no guarantee that a pandemic free world will ever be created, he is urging that we take back the control of our own lives. The best way to ensure our survival is by governments investing in proper healthcare, in every way possible, for each and every one of its citizens.