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'stressing nature' WHO’s Dr Mike Ryan says humanity is 'creating the conditions in which epidemics flourish’


Dr Mike Ryan

Dr Mike Ryan

Dr Mike Ryan

Humanity is “writing cheques that we cannot cash as a civilisation,” according to Dr Mike Ryan of the WHO.

Dr Ryan said nature and populations are being pushed to their limits in the name of economic growth.

A “malignancy” he believes is creating the conditions in which an epidemic can flourish.

The Sligo native was speaking at an online ceremony in which he received the Romero award from Trócaire for outstanding contributions to global justice and he urged humanity to seek a more sustainable way of growing.

“We’re pushing nature to its limit, we’re pushing populations and communities to their limit. We’re stressing the environment and we’re stressing populations and communities.

“We’re creating the conditions in which epidemics flourish, we’re forcing and pushing people to migrate away from their homes due to climate stress. We’re doing so much and we are doing it in the name of globalisation and some sense of chasing that wonderful thing that people call economic growth.

“Well, in my view, that’s becoming a malignancy, not growth, because what it’s doing is driving unsustainable practises in terms of how we manage communities and how we manage development, how we manage prosperity,” Dr Ryan said.

Dr Ryan has overseen the global health body’s response to many epidemics and he called for a move toward a more sustainable world, “where slavery to economic growth is taken out of the equation”.

We’re writing cheques that we cannot cash as a civilisation for the future, and they’re going to bounce.

“My fear is that our children are going to pay that price. Someday when we’re not here, our children are going to wake up and there’s a pandemic with a higher case fatality rate, and it could bring our civilisation to its very knees,” he said.

Mr Ryan has seen the effects migration of populations can have on communities as well as infectious diseases and he urged society to seek more sustainable growth methods.

“We need a world that’s more sustainable, where profit is not before communities. Where the slavery to economic growth is taken out of the equation. We need sustainable growth for our communities and sustainable livelihoods for our people.

“We are taking huge risks, and I mean massive risks, with our future...we’re being extremely irresponsible right now,” the WHO representative said.

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