Bill Gates: Better response to epidemics needed



The recent Ebola epidemic has demonstrated the need for better preparation for the possible emergence of an even more infectious disease, philanthropist and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates wrote in a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The “problem,” Mr. Gates contended, was not the failure of one institution; instead, the Ebola epidemic represents a global failure on many levels. To effectively combat future epidemics, Mr. Gates, cochair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, recommended building a global warning and response system that is coordinated by a global institution and has enough power and funding to work effectively. That system would expand research and development, improve early warning systems, employ a dedicated corps of volunteers, work to improve health systems in lower-income countries, and hold regular preparedness exercises.

“An epidemic is one of the few catastrophes that could set the world back drastically in the next few decades. By building a global warning and response system, we can prepare for it and prevent millions of deaths,” Mr. Gates concluded.

Read the full article in the New England Journal of Medicine (doi:10.1056/NEJMp1502918).

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