The ebola to come

A worldwide ebola pandemic is looking increasingly likely. This may not be the time to come over apocalyptic, but it probably is time to reflect on why the world is so susceptible to such diseases. And why the consequences could be so devastating to society – and also to the economy.

Physical health risks are the flip side to globalised travel. Just as computer viruses are facilitated by global electronic communications. And it is just one aspect of the fragility of our global systems. The features that make the modern world fun and convenient (provided you have the money, of course) are the same ones that make it so fragile.

What is the role of companies in this fragile world? Well no doubt one part is to plan for the risks to the business that it brings. Just as companies did for SARS and bird flu (and do for computer viruses, for that matter).

But perhaps a more important consequence should be that companies reflect on what part they have had to play in contributing to the fragility in the first place. Especially when it comes to arguing over who should pay for health protection measures.

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