NEW YORK, May 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Most of the
world is failing to invest enough money to prevent the potential
global spread of disease that could kill millions of people and
cripple economies, the World Bank said on Thursday.
Faced with a pandemic, an unprepared planet could lose
billions to trillions of dollars, a significant chunk of the
global gross domestic product, it said in a report.
Yet containing pandemics - diseases that spread globally
compared with epidemics that are localized - would cost about $1
per person per year in investment, the Bank said.
"Given the scale of risk to human lives and livelihoods, the
investment case for financing preparedness is compelling," said
Peter Sands, chairman of the Bank's Working Group on Financing
Preparedness which wrote the report.
"We must make it happen," he said.
Recent pandemics include the Zika virus, an infectious
disease linked to severe birth defects in babies, and the H1N1
virus, also known as swine flu, the Bank said.
The devastating effects of a pandemic were illustrated as
well during the Ebola outbreak that swept West Africa and killed
more than 11,000 people between 2013 and 2016.
To determine that most of the world falls short in terms of
pandemic preparedness the World Bank assessed countries on a
stress test of measures in place.
Of 37 countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America
put through the test, most were graded with a red or yellow
light, meaning progress remains to be made, the Washington-based
With disease outbreaks becoming increasingly frequent, the
Bank called on its 189-member countries to step up investments
in disease surveillance systems, laboratories and emergency
"We have to ensure we are prepared, so the next outbreak
does not become the next pandemic," said Jim Yong Kim, who is
the Bank's president, in a statement.
Ebola resurfaced earlier this month in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo for the eight time, killing four people
according to the World Health Organization.
(Reporting by Sebastien Malo @sebastienmalo, Editing by Ellen
Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian
news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate
change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)