Neglecting Public Health
By Glenn Harlan Reynolds Published 07/14/2004
E-Mail Bookmark Print Save
This month's Harper's Magazine includes a cover story on the decline of the public health system, by Dr. Ronald J. Glasser. Glasser lays out a number of ways in which the global public health system isn't up to the threats posed by diseases like SARS. Dr. Glasser's diagnosis seems on target, but his article leaves a lot to be desired in terms of treatment -- he concludes (in a fashion that seems somehow emblematic for Harper's) that we are probably too foolish to survive these new epidemics, and that we probably deserve to die.
I don't agree, and I think that we should be doing something about the problem. The public health infrastructure built up in the last century was an enormous achievement. It was also, as Robert Fogel notes in his new book, Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, a gigantic undertaking. Fogel writes about...