Fight Pandemics Like Wildfires  With Prevention and a Plan to Share the Costs

Fight Pandemics Like Wildfires With Prevention and a Plan to Share the Costs

03/06/2020

Authors:  Machalaba C and Karesh WB    In: Foreign Affairs

"Yet around the world, governments and international organizations have treated the new coronavirus outbreak as a public health problem rather than a larger societal one whose causes and consequences will affect everything from finance and insurance to tourism and agriculture. Nearly every other type of disaster calls upon multiple sectors for response and prevention."

"Fire brigades fight wildfires, for instance, but building codes and flame retardants reduce the likelihood that fires will break out in the first place, while alarms provide early warnings to those in danger. When a hurricane threatens, local authorities evacuate people days before the storm is expected to hit, but zoning and insurance pricing should already have helped anticipate the problem by deterring the development of flood-prone areas. In both types of disasters, a variety of actors, public and private, ultimately bear the costs. Pandemics are unique in that they are treated almost exclusively as public health threats, with few standard prevention efforts and no mechanism for sharing costs across affected sectors."

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