Foreign Affairs Article

Ebola’s Lessons

Author: Laurie Garrett

In a biological sense, last year’s Ebola epidemic, which struck West Africa, spilled over into the United States and Europe, and has to date led to more than 27,000 infections and more than 11,000 deaths, was a great surprise. Local health and political leaders did not know of the presence of the hemorrhagic fever virus in the 35,000-square-mile Guinea Forest Region, and no human cases had ever been identified in the region prior to the outbreak.

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Understanding The Relationships Between Noncommunicable Diseases, Unhealthy Lifestyles, And Country Wealth

Authors: Thomas J. Bollyky, Caroline Andridge, and Joseph L. Dieleman

The amount of international aid given to address noncommunicable diseases is minimal. Most of it is directed to wealthier countries and focuses on the prevention of unhealthy lifestyles. Explanations for the current direction of noncommunicable disease aid include that these are diseases of affluence that benefit from substantial research and development into their treatment in high-income countries and are better addressed through domestic tax and policy measures to reduce risk-factor prevalence than through aid programs. This study assessed these justifications. First, we examined the relationships among premature adult mortality, defined as the probability that a person who has lived to the age of fifteen will die before the age of sixty from noncommunicable diseases; the major risk factors for these diseases; and country wealth. Second, we compared noncommunicable and communicable diseases prevalent in poor and wealthy countries alike, and their respective links to economic development. Last, we examined the respective roles that wealth and risk prevention have played in countries that achieved substantial reductions in premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases. Our results support greater investment in cost-effective noncommunicable disease preventive care and treatment in poorer countries and a higher priority for reducing key risk factors, particularly tobacco use.

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Cancer Prevention and Treatment in Developing Countries

Authors: Thomas J. Bollyky and Caroline Andridge
Council on Foreign Relations

Once thought to be challenges for affluent countries alone, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other noncommunicable diseases are now the leading cause of death and disability in developing countries. The economic and human costs are high and rising in low- and middle-income countries, threatening their continued development prosperity. Lung, liver, cervical and breast cancers constitute a large proportion of this growing burden and can be addressed with life-saving and low-cost interventions.

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Other Report

New, Cheap, and Improved: Assessing the Promise of Reverse and Frugal Innovation to Address Noncommunicable Diseases

Author: Thomas J. Bollyky

In recent years, frugal and reverse innovation have gained attention as potential strategies for increasing the quality and accessibility of health care while slowing the growth in its costs. Thomas J. Bollyky arges that the demand for these types of innovation is increasing and outlines three practical questions for policymakers seeking real investments and results.

See more in Global; Diseases, Noncommunicable; Innovation

Research Links

Global Health and Infectious Diseases

Research links for news, current outbreaks, research and data, legislation, conferences, and primary sources focused on global health and organizations involved in addressing infectious diseases (also known as communicable diseases) such as Ebola, polio, MERS and influenza.

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Primary Sources

U.S. Global Change Research Program: The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States

U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) released this draft of its report Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States on April 7, 2015, in response to President Obama's Climate Action Plan. The final report, expected to be published in early 2016, is "intended to present a comprehensive, evidence-based, and, where possible, quantitative estimation of observed and projected public health impacts related to climate change in the United States."

See more in United States; Climate Change; Public Health Threats and Pandemics