How prepared is Asia for pandemic and epidemic diseases? While efforts by national governments and international organizations to prevent and control pandemics in the region have been instrumental in mitigating disaster in the short-term, they have also exposed more systemic weaknesses that call into question Asia’s preparedness for future outbreaks. Future preparedness is important, because infectious diseases of a global or regional nature threaten the health and lives of large numbers of people as well as paralyze economic activity. Asia is particularly susceptible due to increasing migration and global travel, high population density in urban areas, more rapid spread of tropical diseases because of climate change, and underdeveloped healthcare systems. However, accurate calculations of what and how much effort and money to invest in preparedness and response plans are also important, as overreaction has proven to be costly. The key question, then, is how governments, international organizations, and businesses in the region can collaborate to build systemic safeguards against pandemics and epidemics, as well as ensure rapid action to minimize economic and social costs when unexpected diseases hit.

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