Security and health in the twenty-first century

Authored by: O’Manique Colleen , Fourie Pieter

The Routledge Handbook of Security Studies

Print publication date:  November  2009
Online publication date:  December  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415463614
eBook ISBN: 9780203866764
Adobe ISBN: 9781135239077


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Certain transmissible pathogens have become increasingly securitized in the contemporary global context. Within a single decade, there have been two UN Security Council special sessions devoted to the threat of AIDS; and the global response to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and H5N1 (avian influenza) were effective and well-coordinated operations executed with military precision and urgency – and accompanied by a military discourse: the language within which particular viruses have been couched has become increasingly militarized, with ‘enemies’ to be ‘combated’ and ‘wars’ to be won. For instance, instead of ‘medical interventions to counter the HI virus’, it is common to refer to the ‘war on AIDS’ – or cancer or drugs. In the short term, this response has been effective: both SARS and H5N1 have (for now) been contained.

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