With a death toll of 4,590, the Ebola crisis has wreaked havoc throughout the world.
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, now a professor at Harvard, offers three lessons from the crisis, echoing a report of the Global Health 2035 commission that he co-chaired.
"First, collective action must be taken to build strong health systems in every corner of the globe," he writes in the Financial Times
. "In West Africa, Ebola was a stress test on national health systems, and in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea the systems could not cope.
"The second lesson is that the lack of investment in public health is a global emergency."
The World Health Organization (WHO) has been forced to cut staff thanks to budget reductions during the past 20 years. And that slowed its response to Ebola, Summers says.
"The third lesson concerns scientific innovation," he writes. "When it comes to discovering and developing medicines, vaccines and diagnostic tests, we have been largely ignoring the infectious diseases that disproportionately kill the world's poor," Summers explains.
"While the focus is understandably on responding to the Ebola crisis, it is equally important that it serves as a wake-up call with respect to inadequacies that threaten not just tragedy on an unprecedented scale but the basic security of the U.S. and other wealthy nations," he adds.
"No part of the world can insulate itself from the consequences of epidemic and pandemic," Summers argues.
"Some issues are even more important than recessions and elections. Ebola is a tragedy. Let us hope that it will also be a spur to taking the necessary steps to prevent the far greater one that is nearly inevitable on the current policy trajectory. The next Ebola is just around the corner," he concludes.
Meanwhile, the Travel and Transport Task Force on Ebola Virus Disease
, formed by WHO and other international organizations, said in a statement Friday, "The best protective measures for non-affected countries are adequate levels of preparedness including heightened surveillance to detect and diagnose cases early and well-prepared staff and operational planning to ensure that suspect cases of Ebola are managed safely."
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