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The 2014 Ebola outbreak demonstrated that deadly diseases do not respect international borders, and that the world is underprepared for the next such incident. In addition, the global spread of infections resistant to almost all known antibiotics underlines that safeguarding human health is a joint endeavor. Several governments have signed up to the Global Health Security Agenda to ensure better cooperation and preparedness. CGD assesses progress and obstacles and suggests how international agencies can ensure the world is ready to fight dangerous and widespread infections when, not if, they next emerge.
Since Charles, Janeen, and I last wrote about the links between drug-resistant superbugs and antibiotic use in livestock, there has been a slew of new interesting, terrifying, and informative things to read on the topic. And they all underscore the need for a global approach to reduce agricultural use of antibiotics to promote animal growth and prevent disease in large, concentrated feeding operations. We offered initial ideas on the essential elements of a global treaty here. You can also read more about the problem, and the steps taken thus far to address it, in my new CGD book, Global Agriculture and the American Farmer: Opportunities for US Leadership.
McDonald's has just gone global with its commitment to serve chicken free from antibiotics that are critically important to human health. Building on a similar phase-out in its US chicken supply in 2016, the company will ban critical antibiotic use from sourced chicken in a handful of high-income countries and Brazil in 2018, expanding to a longer list of “designated markets” by 2027. That's evidence of both the potential to reduce global antibiotic use in livestock and the vital role consumers can play in speeding progress.
The 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was a disturbing demonstration of the inadequacy of international institutions to assist the affected peoples or learn how to better treat and prevent their illness. Experts on a CGD panel discussed their experiences working on crisis response during the Ebola outbreak—and how we can do better.