With the media frenzy over Ebola now thankfully fading, let us view the outbreak within the context of humanity’s continually improving ability to solve new problems.
Today, the world is better prepared than it has ever been to respond to an outbreak of an infectious disease. For example, there are more skilled medical professionals available to tend to the sick and conduct research on effective treatment. The number of physicians per person is rising globally.
While there is not yet a cure for Ebola, many people are hard at work coming up with one. Countless maladies that once were death sentences can now be treated. The development of effective antiretroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS, for example, serves as one of the great medical accomplishments of the past two decades.
Today, the tools to prevent transmission of disease are more accessible than ever. Ebola and many other diseases are partly spread through poor access to sanitation. Thankfully, more people are gaining access to improved sanitation facilities.
The Ebola threat should be viewed in the context of human ingenuity. As Princeton University professor and HumanProgress.org advisory board member Angus Deaton writes in his book The Great Escape, “Need, fear, and, in some circumstances, greed are great drivers of discovery and invention.”