Larry Brilliant just wrote a front-page article for the Wall Street Journal on the new "Age of Pandemics." In the article, he comments on his lack of surprise regarding this new global epidemic (swine flu), and the necessity for further global preparation with respect to infectious diseases. Because of humanity's ever-expanding sphere of inhabitance, we are continually exposing ourselves to new infectious agents, and our dense populations allow for easy transmission. Our changing climate only exacerbates the problems.
The article also serves as a call-to-arms in favor of increased international and national public health systems, citing the smallpox eradication campaign (recall his involvement) as an example of a success story that STILL pays dividends both biologically and economically.
I'll avoid summarizing it ALL, because it's fairly short and definitely worth a read:
for some reason, wsj.com doesn't like external links. here's the url (just copy and paste it):