Pandemics are one of the biggest threats facing humanity today. An infectious disease outbreak could rapidly lead to millions of deaths across the globe, destabilize governments, shut down trade and travel, and have significant, detrimental effects on the world’s economy.
Recent spread of diseases like SARS, Ebola, and Zika demonstrate that such outbreaks are “the new normal,” illustrating that a disease outbreak anywhere can lead to a disease outbreak everywhere. We cannot predict when and where the next pandemic will begin, but we can prepare. Preventing and stopping pandemics and bolstering global health security require a comprehensive and multifaceted approach, necessitating engagement with leaders across sectors and disciplines.
Universities are particularly well-suited, and Harvard University uniquely so, to confront this challenge. Harvard Global Health Institute’s mission is not just to generate knowledge about pandemic preparedness but also to train the current and next generation of leaders to use the best science available and ensure that we are all better prepared – not if, but when, the next disease outbreak hits. We are committed to not only conducting work in this area, but also serving as a global broker: monitoring global health investment and, when relevant, holding institutions accountable for much-needed reforms. Our job is to consider every dimension -- from biology to diplomacy to health systems issues – to ensure the healthiest and safest world possible.