Gates: Can Autopsies Stop Epidemics?

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Why you should care

Because better post-mortem data could halt the next epidemic in its tracks. 

Can post-mortems save lives? That’s the belief of Bill and Melinda Gates, who are investing $75 million in creating small teams of people who would conduct “minimal autopsies” on children around the world — and possibly spot emerging epidemics. The idea has appeal. If basic autopsies had been conducted after the first Ebola deaths last year, for instance, global health networks could have responded much more quickly. Perhaps they could have staved off the spread of the outbreak to urban centers.

But cultural barriers to autopsy are widespread and sometimes very strong, especially for children. How will these minimal autospy teams overcome local reluctance? The Gateses explain their plans above.

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