Pandemics

Authored by: Mark Harrison

The Routledge History of Disease

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415720014
eBook ISBN: 9781315543420
Adobe ISBN: 9781134857876

10.4324/9781315543420.ch8

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Abstract

The last few decades have seen numerous scares over the spread of disease – not only ‘classic’ pandemic diseases such as influenza but many previously unknown ones such as MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome), SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and Ebola. Respected figures in public health have warned that we are entering a new ‘Age of Pandemics’ in which globalization, environmental degradation and climate change will combine to produce a maelstrom of infection. 1 But while there is widespread agreement about the potential for pandemics to develop in our globalized world, the response to these threats has been far from consistent. In some cases, it has been tardy; in others, heavy-handed. The competitive pressures generated by globalization have even induced some states to turn pandemics to their advantage, using them to justify measures that evade international law or compromise civil liberties. 2 Pandemics have thus become powerful tools in national and international politics, susceptible to being manipulated for political, economic and professional gain.

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