Preparing for the Next Pandemic

The author makes several emphatic issues; therefore, while compelling, I cannot dismiss it outrightly. Of course, the write up focuses on the US, but the key takeaways apply to other countries as well.

For future epidemics to be managed more effectively, we must have better information, and that means having well-funded, well-trained and well-preparedpublic health experts—trained in statistics, epidemiology, and laboratory and clinical medicine—at the CDC and in the states

I’d focus on the three words- funding, training and preparation.

The classical libertarian concepts of unlimited funding for “people-welfare” or even redistribution of wealth, doesn’t apply here. The issues relate to well funded and entrenched lobbies instead and despite the transparency, there’s only a blood howl and hand wringing in public about “what goals have to be achieved”. While the federal system provides general directions, the local departments have to gear up to define adequate mechanisms to deal with health issues as and when they arise.

Funding isn’t limitless. There are several constraints and red tape before anything gets greenlighted at the policy level. While auditors have specific mechanisms to identify “milestones” achieved, these are not always “perfect”. We operate in the absence of quantifiable endpoints.

Another classical trait is “regular training”- however, the credits by themselves serve no meaning unless there’s a “hands-on” assessment. Individuals have varying motivations, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to get the average Joe to work himself to death in pursuit of excellence. If the pension is secured, most ordinary people would be content to be at the same place.

Last but not least- pandemics come unannounced. There have been several indications that this was biowarfare. We might never be able to know the truth, but I doubt if this would be the last of pandemics. We are likely to see more, and that’s why this write up is valid.

I agree with the author that prevention is better than cure but requires a considerable alignment of public health goals towards a greater common good. In the ideal world, it would mean breaking down the lobbies that hold us from achieving these aims, but when wheelers and dealers are entwined, we can only hope that chaos doesn’t engulf us all!


via Preparing for the Next Pandemic – WSJ

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