New era of epidemics rival climate change in risks to global businesses: WEF

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-18 22:14:19|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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GENEVA, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- The World Economic Forum (WEF), along with the Harvard Global Health Institute, released on Friday a white paper detailing why and how businesses should contribute more to manage the threat and impact of infectious disease on societies.

Pandemics will be the cause of average annual economic losses of 0.7 percent of global GDP - or 570 billion U.S. dollars - a threat similar in scale to that estimated for climate change in the coming decades, says the paper according to a statement released here.

Outbreak Readiness and Business Impact: Protecting Lives and Livelihoods across the Global Economy describes the business risk posed by a new era of epidemics.

"Outbreaks are a top global economic risk and - like the case for climate change - large companies can no longer afford to stay on the sidelines," said Vanessa Candeias, head of the System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare and WEF executive committee member.

She said business leaders need to understand the expected costs of epidemics better, mitigate these costs and strengthen health security more broadly.

The number and kind of infectious disease outbreaks have increased significantly over the past 30 years, and since 2011, the world has seen nearly 200 epidemic events a year.

The white paper offers recommendations to help companies more appropriately understand risks, reduce exposure and act on opportunities for public-private cooperation to optimally prepare for and mitigate these risks.

The Forum's Global Risks Report 2019, released earlier this week, describes a world vulnerable to increasing naturally emerging infectious disease threats and risks posed by revolutionary new biotechnologies.

Despite considerable progress, the world remains ill-prepared to detect and respond to outbreaks and is not prepared to respond to a significant pandemic threat, said the WEF statement.

"While medical and public health advances allow us to contain the morbidity and mortality effect of epidemics better, our collective vulnerability to the societal and economic impacts of infectious disease crises appears to be increasing," it said.