"Plagues and the Paradox of Progress: A Conversation with Thomas J. Bollyky." CSIS Commission on Strengthening America's Health Security, Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 25, 2018. Accessed December 21, 2023.

Photo Credit: Liz Lynch

For the first time in recorded history, bacteria, viruses, and other infectious diseases do not cause the majority of deaths or disabilities in any region of the world. But the news is not all good. The recent declines in plagues and parasites have not been accompanied by the same gains in infrastructure, job opportunities, and governance that came with those health improvements in the past. That has meant the byproducts of better health – a growing young work force, less deadly cities, and the shift in countries’ health needs to adults – have become potential risks for instability and impoverishment rather than drivers of prosperity. For today’s improved health to lead to broader progress, Bollyky argues, it must be embedded in a larger development strategy, including investment in quality health-care and education systems, making cities more livable, and family planning.

On Thursday, October 25, 2018, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, the CSIS Global Health Policy Center hosted a conversation between Commission Secretariat Director and CSIS Senior Vice President and Global Health Policy Center Director J. Stephen Morrison and Thomas J. Bollyky on Bollyky’s new book, Plagues and the Paradox of Progress: Why the World is Getting Healthier in Worrisome Ways. Bollyky noted that recent improvements in health outcomes have not been matched by advances in broader economic development. He argued for expanding global health priorities to include noncommunicable diseases and integrating global health more effectively into broader development strategies that invest in the future of growing youth populations. This was part of a series of conversations intended to spotlight new thinking on health security, presented by the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security.