The World Is Not Ready For Next Global Health Crisis, Millions May Die

The next large-scale disease outbreak would be devastating, potentially killing 50 to 80 million people across the world. Despite the existing threat, governments and organizations still lack efforts to prevent widespread diseases. 

The warning comes from a new report issued by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB). The group was established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank following the Ebola epidemic in West Africa that occurred from 2014 to 2016. 

GPMB tracks global levels of preparedness for disease outbreaks and guides government leaders and nonprofit organizations in the decision making process to prevent or address health issues. 

In its latest report, the group found increasing health risks that may affect different countries. GPMB raised concerns that despite such global threats, there are still little preparedness efforts at the state-level, Gizmodo reported Wednesday.

“The world is at acute risk for devastating regional or global disease epidemics or pandemics that not only cause loss of life but upend economies and create social chaos,” the report stated. 

Climate change and international insecurity are expected to contribute to emerging disease outbreaks. Future health crises might include “a rapidly moving, highly lethal pandemic of a respiratory pathogen killing 50 to 80 million people,” according to GPMB co-chairs Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway, and Elhadj As Sy, secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. 

GPMB also predicted the respiratory disease would cut nearly 5 percent of the world’s economy. Brundtland and Sy said such global pandemic would cause widespread havoc, instability and insecurity.

The other diseases that may potentially cause global crises are Ebola, SARS, cholera, measles and influenza. The next global pandemic would greatly affect South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product. 

But GPMB noted all economies are at risk. The current level of preparedness worldwide is “grossly insufficient,” the report stated. 

Poor community engagement and lack of long-term efforts by governments and partners are among the problems contributing to the issue. 

For the report, the group analyzed movement of highly infectious diseases around the world and emerging social, economic and political trends, among other factors.  

“For too long, we have allowed a cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to pandemics: we ramp up efforts when there is a serious threat, then quickly forget about them when the threat subsides,” GPMB said. “It is well past time to act.”

Ebola Health care workers learn how to properly dispose of the remains of a simulated patient who died from Ebola in Buchanan City, Nov. 21, 2014. Joint Forces Command – United Assistance mobile training team trains local health care workers on how to properly manage an Ebola treatment unit. Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes/US Army