Ebola and Economy: The Cost of Infectious Disease

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The latest Ebola crisis proved that health systems are equipped to contain a major outbreak of infectious disease. In an increasingly connected world, highly contagious diseases travel across porous borders without notice. The cost in lives and economic growth can be enormous. Diseases such as malaria can stunt GDP growth by nearly 1.5 percent and tuberculosis can trigger a drop of 4 percent to 6 percent. For some diseases, such as Ebola, health services are handicapped because there is no vaccine to prevent its spread or drug to cure those who have it. Pharmaceutical companies have little financial incentive to develop medicines for diseases found mostly in poor countries. Panelists will explore the human and economic consequences of infectious disease and how incentives can encourage investment to find effective treatments.

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