DON’T PANIC, but according to Bill Gates, our lack of preparation could drastically increase the devastation of the next epidemic, whether by virus or bioterrorism. In a TED Talk presented in New York last month, Gates talked about how we need to prepare for a viral outbreak in much the same way we have historically prepared for war – particularly with regards to our actions around nuclear deterrence.
“Today the greatest risk of global catastrophe doesn’t look like [nuclear war]…if anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes.” With the Ebola outbreak of 2014 still fresh in our minds, Mr Gates’ words really hit home.
In this eight minute presentation Bill Gates outlines the steps that we would need to take to manage a global viral outbreak. It essentially involves combining contemporary medical science with the robust mobilisation and logistics systems of global military forces; essentially providing doctors and health workers with combat experience to truly succeed in germ warfare.
This is a truly fascinating presentation from the man who is partially responsible for eradication of Polio, one of the great achievements of our age. Mr Gates provides rational and potentially life-saving options, but we’re wondering if his words and the recent ebola outbreak are enough of a call to arms to encourage drastic change. Must we wait for a global epidemic that comes too little, too late? If we are to avoid disaster and create sustainable healthcare management, we need to act now.