This article is written by Ritansha Lakshmi, student of Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida
Global health security measures “to support countries to prepare for and fight pandemic and epidemic diseases” – have grown over the past few years, driven by concerns about emerging infectious diseases such as influenza, HIV, SARS, Zika, Ebola and now Covid19.
In today’s globalized world, a health threat somewhere in a globe is a threat everywhere around the globe. A pathogen can travel from a small village to major cities all over the world in 36 hours. (JONAS, 2013, p. 37)
To prevent widespread health and economic disruption it is important to prevent, detect and control infectious diseases at their origin. (T. Dikid)
The global community where we are living is an interactive and interdependent and here maintaining health is of global concern. Consequences related to health issues is not only affecting the people of developing nations but also the health community across the world. Healthy, productive citizens are essential for global economic growth and security. Stable population reduce pressure on global economic and environment. When people are healthy, they tend to work efficiently thus increase productivity and brings economic prosperity. (XII, p. 146)
Why is Global Health Important?
Global health plays an important role in both global security and the security of the population. As in today’s world where economies become increasingly globalized and interdependent, the result of international travel, trade and capital movements, it is essential to think about health in a global context to overcome any disturbance to the market and to enhance the global capacity for responding to infectious disease threats.
It is also important to look into rapid identification and control of emerging infectious diseases via
- promoting and creating awareness about the infectious disease.
- Preventing the international spread of disease by implementing measures and policies.
- Protecting the health of one’s own countries population.
Outbreaks of a disease which is infectious in nature may be inevitable, but the economic damage which may be caused by the disease is not if a proper pre-planned policies and regulations are made by the countries as a preparedness measures to combat a pandemic. So, a country needs to recognize that the regulations are important to prevent the worldwide spread of diseases while minimizing interruption of world trade, travel and capital movements. And here country’s leadership role can play an important part in promoting a comprehensive, global, real-time infectious disease surveillance system.
While the threat is natural (a pathogen), pandemic frequency and impact mostly depend on people action. Weak policies and governance can turn an infectious disease in a small part of a country into a pandemic, resulting in economic loss, as well as impacting health. It is also important to encourage countries to work together to share information about known diseases.
Being prepared to cope and lessen impacts on a pandemic is required. Policies and budgets should therefore systematically anticipate pandemics and assess the risks; most whole-of-society preparedness measures are the same as for other major complex disasters.
Weak interaction between veterinary and public health department in developing countries is one of the key drivers of pandemic risk. As the veterinary health system can detect pathogens early, diagnose them correctly, and control infection before it spreads within the country and across. As most of the risk originates in livestock, which is under human control and can be controlled at its animal source, so it does not spread and become a pandemic in humans and results in disturbing economic prosperity of a country.
Pandemic amnesia and collective myopia in governments and international organizations are pervasive. As it is well said by French writer Albert Camus: “Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.” (Camus, 1947). No country mention pandemic risks explicitly, focusing mostly on other natural threats that have lower anticipated annual values of losses of life and economy than a severe pandemic. Without active discussion of the risk in public discourse and policy-making, even implicit knowledge about pandemics sooner or later diminishes. The international community and governments must talk about the importance and need to manage and finance a connected system of defences against a pandemic like Covid19 as an essential permanent infrastructure and it should also be included in the financial budget list of every country.
Economic Impact of Covid19
Societies tend to erase pandemics from memory. Many history textbooks with twenty pages on “World War I” have hardly one paragraph on the “1918 flu pandemic” (CDC, n.d.), though it killed six times more people than the war and its impact was determined by human actions, not just by virus mutations. Since it is important to not let the history repeat itself it is important to have an adequate policy to combat the disease and providing a shield for life and economy losses.
When a disease is not controlled at its source it results into the sudden pandemic outbreak, people across the world suffer both an infection of disease and a sharp, probably disastrous, economic depression accompanying with shifts in the demand curve, supply imbalance, and economic and social disturbances. Because countries are interconnected by, and depend on, travel, trade and capital movements, the disturbance would spread across worldwide economic and financial systems, possibly ahead of the infection itself. Moreover, many developing countries depend on remittances, tourism, world capital markets, and foreign trade markets for their exports and imports. The importance of these vulnerable links would differ across countries, and many developing countries could be especially prone to disruptions. Active promotion of whole-of-society resilience and pandemic preparedness can benefit countries by reducing not only pandemic impact, but also the costs of other disasters and major crises in term of economic loss.
The international community left with two choices: Either continue to rely on emergency responses, with their high-impact/low-sustainability trade-off and their huge human and economic losses or commit to supporting systemic prevention efforts that will lessen pandemic risks and deliver considerable long-term health and economic benefits. All countries benefit if each undertakes adequate whole-of-society preparedness measures to increase resilience and capacity to respond to disasters and thus limit spillovers of negative impacts to other countries.
JONAS, OLGA B., 2013, Pandemic risk [online]. Available from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/16343/WDR14_bp_Pandemic_Risk_Jonas.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Biology Text Book For Class XII, 2006. [online], NCERT.
CAMUS, ALBERT, 1947, The Plague [online]. Available from: https://antilogicalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/the-plague.pdf
NCBI, 2013, Emerging & re-emerging infections in India: An overview.
History of 1918 Flu Pandemic | Pandemic Influenza (Flu) | CDC, [no date]. Cdc.gov [online],