The Many Meanings of Health Security

Authored by: Colin McInnes

Routledge Handbook of Global Health Security

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415645478
eBook ISBN: 9780203078563
Adobe ISBN: 9781136155574


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The link between security and health is not new, but has traditionally been seen in narrow, albeit bidirectional, terms: the manner in which disease may affect military capacity and especially military operations and the impact of conflict on health and health care. By the turn of the millennium, however, this link was broadening and its significance to national and international agendas rising. The rationale for this was constructed along fairly consistent lines: that new global health risks had appeared as a result of emerging and reemerging diseases, increased population mobility, spreading transnational crime, environmental change, and bioterrorism; and that these posed new security dangers (see for example Brundtland 2003; CIA 2000; WHO 2007c; Yuk-ping & Thomas 2010). Moreover, this was a period when security audiences had been sensitized to the idea of new risks following the “bonfire of the certainties” at the end of the Cold War. The attempt to construct health as a security issue (to “securitize” it) therefore fell on more fertile ground than might previously have been the case. Beyond “real world” concerns, however, were political considerations, with some within the public health community recognizing that the security label was a potentially effective means of elevating global health issues on the national and global stage.

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