Plagues and the Paradox of Progress

“With progress comes new problems” said Bollyky, as he explained the premise behind his book Plagues and the Paradox of Progress. It covers the threat of diseases to developing countries, and the idea that the future of global health is uncertain.

The author explained to his audience how progress in public health has occurred over the years, such as through labour regulations and developments in sanitation. “We have become much better at saving the lives of children in poor countries”, he said.

However, these developments, as well as shifts in urbanisation, have led to a drastic and rather overwhelming increase in migration. Developing countries, said Bollyky, are the ones most affected, but they are also the ones least prepared.

“When you save the lives of children, those children grow to be adults” he said, in asking the audience to consider whether global health investments really are a good thing, or whether they’re just a short-term fix to an extremely difficult, ingrained issue.

It is an issue that “can only be fixed by the government” he argued. “There is a lot more investment that still has to happen”.

If you’re interested in history please also see Event 273 at 7pm on Thursday 30 May. If you like watching Hay Festival events digitally please sign up to the Hay Player for more from the world’s greatest thinkers.

 Picture by: Chris Athanasiou