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International Engagement Is Critical to Fighting Epidemics

Jennifer Nuzzo and Matthew Shearer
Date posted:
January 16, 2017
Publication type:

Health Security, Vol 15, January 2017

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Available on Publisher Website
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In the past 15 years, a series of infectious disease emergencies—the anthrax attacks in 2001, the rapid global spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic, the emergence and international spread of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the largest Ebola epidemic on record, and the emergence and spread of Zika virus—have increased global political concerns about emerging infectious disease threats and deliberate epidemics. Among these events, Ebola and Zika serve as stark reminders that, if left unchecked, infectious disease outbreaks that originate in one country can produce profound international human, political, and economic consequences. Limited public health and healthcare infrastructure in West Africa quickly enabled Ebola to rapidly spread to multiple countries, resulting in unprecedented levels of illness and death. The suffering caused by the epidemic led to social unrest and economic distress that threatened to undermine decades of US investment aimed at bringing political stability to the region. To help end the epidemic, the US Congress appropriated more than $5 billion in emergency funds.



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