When Ebola arrived on our shores last fall, an obvious reality stared us within the face. In our increasingly interconnected world, illness cannot be managed by passports. A world health crisis wherever on the earth can pose a humanitarian, financial and safety threat in all places on this planet.
At the World Financial Discussion board in Davos this year, I was lucky to serve on a panel entitled “Pandemics: Whose Problem?”, where we considered the lessons to be realized from the world’s failure to answer Ebola. As cities get bigger, worldwide journey becomes simpler, and antibiotic resistance will increase, the risk of a serious pandemic grows ever larger. If Ebola is a harbinger of the threats we are going to face sooner or later, we should act fast to dramatically improve our collective response.
In what may be characterized as an epidemiological worst case state of affairs, the 2014 Ebola outbreak West Africa struck at the crossroads of three international locations the place the devastating legacy of bloody civil wars, excessive poverty, lack of worldwide funding in public health infrastructure, and a crucial dearth of well being care professionals left the health care system in whole shambles. Simply as we’ve failed political states, one could fairly describe these three international locations as “failed health states.”
As a business leader, I method Ebola from a humanitarian perspective, but also as a global financial and safety risk. As evidenced by Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, these “failed well being states” are as dangerous to the world as failed political states. In our ever inter-connected world, we cannot flip a blind eye when a disaster in not in “our backyard.” All of us share a figurative “backyard,” and each sector of society shares a collective duty to act swiftly and successfully to save lots of lives.
What could be performed? First, we should make investments in the strengthening of public health techniques in “failed health states.” Second, we must bolster international infection management capacity by way of public education campaigns and correct shops of essential supplies. Just as the U.S. has a Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the international group should develop a worldwide Strategic Pandemic Reserve, under United Nations or World Health Group auspices, to make sure that necessary infection control products are readily available on a worldwide scale. Third, we should strengthen our global health care human useful resource capability. A global Health Workforce Reserve modeled on the Military Reserves, as was recently really helpful by professors at Stanford and Georgetown, is a promising concept.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we want simpler catastrophe preparedness coordination amongst international constituents to cut back overlap and improve effectivity. This consists of the essential want for considerably enhanced sources for the World Well being Group. As latest occasions made abundantly clear, a major health crisis proved far beyond the capability of the WHO to include. Albeit imperfect, the Who’s all we’ve. We are penny-clever and pound-foolish if we don’t provide the important sources needed by the very establishment we rely on to guard us from a world well being catastrophe. The unanimously endorsed January 25 WHO decision aimed at overhauling the organization’s pandemic preparedness and response capability is a promising development. Now it is the worldwide neighborhood’s duty to step up and be sure that the group has the resources it must successfully carry out the job.
Engagement of the private sector just isn’t only a ethical imperative, but additionally a matter of enlightened self-interest. Firms finest succeed after they earn the belief of their group, investors, supplier partners, prospects and society through the creation of lengthy-time period economic worth, a dedication to making the world a greater place and a concentrate on constructing sturdy social capital within their group. Enterprise cannot reach failed societies.
As we have seen at Henry Schein time and again, no single sector can successfully deal with world health crises; public-personal partnerships are the one effective solution. The non-public sector’s important assets, infrastructure, expertise and relationships could be leveraged to drive motion, in partnership with the other sectors of society. For instance, Henry Schein has pledged a donation of more than $1 million in private protective tools (PPE) to the CDC Basis and our NGO partners to help stop the unfold of Ebola in West Africa. Without the individual expertise of each entity in this equation, the effectiveness of this donation would be greatly diminished. And, in addition to partnerships between the sectors, close coordination among non-public sector actors can have a strong affect. Henry Schein has partnered closely with Becton, Dickinson and Firm (BD) and United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) for many years in the realm of catastrophe relief, and by drawing on our combined experience, our collective impact has been exponentially enhanced.
World Bank President Jim Kim expressed during the closing session in Davos that his aim for 2015 is to see the creation of a worldwide, multi-sector initiative to successfully reply to pandemics. Depend us in. Each of us has a essential role to play, and we in the personal sector stand able to assist a worldwide disaster preparedness initiative that includes multilateral stakeholders, NGOs, medical and disaster relief specialists. As I noted in Davos this year, “We await the decision and we will come.”
The world’s attention, now riveted by Ebola, can result in a renewed deal with studying from the errors of the past and the development of an effective, coordinated, international emergency response technique. If we have realized one lesson from the Ebola crisis, it’s that we haven’t discovered the lessons of all the previous crises. Allow us to not lose this opportunity to avoid wasting lives proper now and numerous lives in the future, whereas also reducing the great economic and security danger that “failed health states,” and the risk of pandemic, pose to the world.
Stanley M. Bergman is Chairman of the Board and CEO of Henry Schein, Inc., a Fortune 500® company and the world’s largest provider of well being care services and products to office-based dental, animal well being and medical practitioners, with more than 17,500 crew members and operations or affiliates in 28 international locations.