Church Times wonders about the disparity of investment in response to diseases around the world. Last week World Malaria Day passed with barely a whisper while the current flu alarm has been covered constantly.
The thinking that informs investment in anti-flu drugs is very straightforward. It has been estimated that a serious pandemic could cost the world economy $3 trillion. SARS is thought to have cost China £25.3 billion in 2003. Even an outbreak of an animal infection, foot-and-mouth disease, cost the UK £7 billion in 2001. Potential losses such as these can easily justify expenditure on disease prevention. Why, then, are the same arguments not applied globally?
Last Saturday was World Malaria Day. Half the world’s population remains at risk from the disease. Nearly a million people die every year. The World Health Organisation estimates that malaria alone reduces economic growth in the worst-affected countries by 1.3 per cent each year. And yet the case for investing in prevention to produce a direct economic benefit is not heard. It is hard to know why, but nationalism, global competition, ignorance, and indifference all play a part. Christ’s definition of “neighbour” has still to be adopted by the world at large.
Read the article here.
More on the flu and poverty here.