Coalition Hosts Panel in Parliament with Nick Herbert MP on Tackling Global Pandemics
Author: Libby Smith
On Tuesday 15 May 2018 The Coalition for Global Prosperity hosted a panel in the House of Commons to discuss ‘Disease X’ and ways to prevent the next global epidemic. This was a very timely discussion in light of recent news that Ebola cases have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and ahead of the World Health Assembly.
Senior panelists included Nick Herbert MP for Arundel and South Downs, Richard Hatchett CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Oxford University Professor Trudie Lang and frontline worker Dr Colin Brown.
Speaking at the event Nick Herbert MP, who is Co-Chair of the APPG on Global TB, commented that Britain has taken a lead in tackling global pandemics which has helped to make both the UK and the world safer. He discussed how diseases like ebola don’t respect borders and can pose a health security risk to us here at home. He also talked about the rising threat of tuberculosis, how the disease is responsible for 1.7 million deaths a year and how on the current trajectory it will take us 150 years to eradicate. One of the challenges facing governments worldwide, he said, was to create greater incentives for pharmaceutical companies to research vaccines for the disease as “there is no epidemic in human history that has been beaten without a vaccine.”
Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, stressed the importance of political leadership and acknowledged DFID’s role as being a major player. He said that the UK and other Governments need to continue to prioritise this agenda to combat epidemics. “Countries that have tremendous resources have to respond”, he said, pointing to Britain’s renowned relevant expertise from specialist front line to our scientists. Mr Hatchett said, “we’ve traditionally looked at epidemics as if they’re like the wrath of God that we can’t do anything about. We are changing that. We can be prepared.”
Trudie Lang, Professor of Global Health at the University of Oxford echoed this saying that “we need true global leadership”. She called on institutions and Governments to link up and share best practice. Dr Colin Brown drew on his experiences as a frontline medical worker during the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone where the UK was one of the first countries to response to the crisis. He and said that “we need really rapid and reactive global support mechanisms” to tackle epidemics before they become exponentially worse. Dr Brown also stressed the importance of Britain leading the charge alongside global partners to respond decisively to the threat of epidemics in a way that is “agreed and unified and not piecemeal”.
Speaking after the event, Theo Clarke, Founder and CEO of the Coalition for Global Prosperity, said “Britain can be proud of its record in tackling pandemics. I’ve seen first hand the devastation that ebola had in West Africa and we should be proud that the UK played such a major role in tackling this deadly disease. We must continue working with partners, like CEPI and other donor Governments, to rapidly and effectively respond to pandemics.”
“An effective aid budget, alongside an active diplomatic and defence strategy, is absolutely vital for Britain’s own security and prosperity. Investing in aid is vital to tackle issues such as pandemics as they do not respect borders. It is not in our interest to sit back and wait until these problems come to our shores, action needs to be taken before the problems grow. Keeping Britain at the forefront of saving lives and alleviating poverty is not only the right thing to do, but very much in Britain’s interest.”