Plagues and parasites have played a central role in world affairs, shaping the evolution of the modern state, the growth of cities, and the disparate fortunes of national economies. This book tells that story, but it is not about the resurgence of pestilence. It is the story of its decline. For the first time in recorded history, viruses, bacteria, and other infectious diseases are not the leading cause of death or disability in any region of the world. People are living longer, and fewer mothers are giving birth to many children in the hopes that some might survive. And yet, the news is not all good. Recent reductions in infectious disease have not been accompanied by the same improvements in income, job opportunities, and governance that occurred with these changes in wealthier countries decades ago. There have also been unintended consequences. In this book, Council on Foreign Relations Director of the Global Health Program Thomas J. Bollyky explores the paradox in our fight against infectious disease: the world is getting healthier in ways that should make us worry.
Plagues and the Paradox of Progress interweaves a grand historical narrative about the rise and fall of infectious diseases in human societies with contemporary case studies of the consequences. Those case studies include: Ethiopia, one of the world’s fastest growing economies; Dhaka, among the most densely settled places on earth; China’s campaigns against infectious diseases under Chairman Mao; and the history of migration from pre-potato famine Ireland to the rickety boats crossing the Mediterranean sea to Europe today. Bollyky uses these and other cases studies to describe how historic health achievements are remaking a world that is both worrisome and full of opportunities. Whether the peril or promise of that progress prevails, Bollyky explains, depends on what we do next.
A Council on Foreign Relations Book
Also explore Thomas Bollyky's interactive report, The Changing Demographics of Global Health.