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How Ebola Impacts Economic Health: CDC's Tom Frieden Explains

Dr Tom Frieden Centers For Disease Control And Prevention
February 12, 2015

CDC leader explains how the Ebola epidemic in West Africa — the largest in history — is reminder of the important connection between health and economic security.


The recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa serves as a wake-up call about the importance of health security not just for physical well-being — but also economic prosperity, says the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden explains that the world’slargest Ebola epidemic — which left more than 9,000 people dead in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea — shows how a blind spot anywhere in the world can become a risk everywhere.

“The impacts aren’t just Ebola deaths, they’re also having [the whole healthcare] system … basically shut down in large part in the three countries, and the economy as well,” he says in a video with John Rice, vice chairman of GE. “So we know that Ebola is a reminder that global health security is critically important.”

Asked by Rice about the importance of quality care in tackling income equality, Frieden emphasizes the need to turn the “vicious cycle” of poor health leading to lower productivity into a “virtuous cycle.”

“We can break that cycle by preventing the things that send [people] to the healthcare provider in the first place, and improving the value of the healthcare they receive — so they’re healthier, they’re spending less on their healthcare, and they’re more productive,” says Frieden.

Watch the video:

(Top image: Courtesy of Lindsey Horton, CDC)