December 20, 2014

HYGIENE, NUTRITION, ANTIBIOTICS AND VACCINES:

A global conspiracy of health (Michael Gerson,  December 18, 2014, NY Times)

There are a variety of reasons for increased child survival, including improved prevention of malaria and HIV. But according to a recent report in the Lancet, about half of these gains came from reductions in pneumonia, diarrhea and measles -- diseases addressed by vaccination. We are seeing the continuation of what is perhaps the greatest scientific contribution to human well-being: the artificial preparation of the immune system to ward off bacteria and viruses.

The provision of vaccines is a particularly clear instance of what economists call a global public good. A tetanus shot, for example, is a very good thing for the individual getting it; he or she doesn't end up with lockjaw. But it is not, strictly speaking, a public good. Only the treated person benefits. The broad provision of the pneumococcal vaccine, in contrast, creates herd immunity and reduces antimicrobial resistance. The circulation of pneumonia in children is diminished, helping protect the elderly as well. Once this public good is produced, everyone can enjoy it without reducing anyone else's share.

What is exceptional about this particular public good is how much of it has been generated by a single source. People love to speculate about shadowy global institutions -- the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission. But one little-known global institution based in Geneva -- Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance -- supports vaccination for nearly 60 percent of the world's children. It is a global conspiracy of health.

Posted by at December 20, 2014 9:05 AM
  

blog comments powered by Disqus
« THE MALTHUSIANS NEVER TIRE OF BEING WRONG: | Main | REAL LIFE DEMENTOR: »