Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz examines the lessons learned from the current Ebola crisis

Joseph Stiglitz speaker - Photo by InnovationNorway - CC BY 2.0Writing for Project Syndicate, Joseph Stiglitz, widely regarded as one of the world’s finest economic thinkers, examines the lessons learned so far from the current Ebola crisis.

Joseph comments that globalisation does not only allow for good things to cross borders more easily; malign influences like environmental problems and disease can also ravage with less resistance.

He goes onto outline how the crisis also reminds us of the importance of government and civil society. Rather than turning to the private sector to control the spread of a disease like Ebola, who have little incentive to devote resources to diseases that afflict the poor or poor countries, we turn to institutions. Joseph notes that whilst governments may not be perfect in addressing such crises, their efficiency could improve if adequate funding was provided to the relevant agencies.

As such, Joseph argues that “what the Ebola crisis calls into question is our reliance on the private sector to do the things that governments perform best.” Indeed, he suggests that with more public funding, an Ebola vaccine could have been developed years ago. America’s ineffectiveness in this regard has drawn particular attention, Joseph adds, because it highlights the fundamental problem that it’s “largely private health-care system is failing.”

Joseph outlines that many factors contribute to America’s health lag, such as the critical factor of America’s outsize inequality. But what is clear is that “how countries structure their health-care system – and their society – makes a huge difference in terms of outcomes.”

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