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March 19, 2015

Gates: Global System Required to Tackle Next Big Epidemic

The Ebola crisis in West Africa points up the need for an interconnected, international system for detecting potential epidemics and minimizing their spread, Bill Gates writes in a New York Times opinion column.

Mr. Gates says debate over how effectively groups like the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control handled the Ebola outbreak "miss the larger point" that the world lacks a coordinated system for identifying and fighting potential epidemics. He notes that airborne infectious diseases can spread much more quickly and kill vastly more people than Ebola, which is transmitted only through physical contact.

The philanthropist calls for a global warning and response system, including improved health infrastructure in poorer countries where epidemics typically start and bigger, more widely accessible medical databases. "The United Nations should empower and fund a global institution to coordinate these efforts," he writes.