The Global Threat of New and Reemerging Infectious Diseases: Reconciling U.S. National Security and Public Health Policy

By Jennifer Brower; Peter Chalk | Go to book overview

Chapter Six
CONCLUSION

This report has highlighted infectious disease as a serious risk both to the international system and to the United States. The overall threat is being driven by globalization, inadvertent consequences stemming from modern medical and agricultural practices, behavioral changes, environmental factors such as climatic change, and the growing danger of bioterrorism. The study specifically recognizes that microbial challenges cannot be territorially bounded and, therefore, need to be understood and dealt with in a larger global context. Further, the analysis delineates disease as a highly pervasive influence that not only impinges on security in terms of traditional conceptions of state stability, but, more insidiously, directly undermines and weakens the essential socioeconomic foundations upon which any effective polity ultimately depends.

The urgency of the infectious disease challenge currently confronting the global community cannot be ignored. People in both the developed and the developing worlds are being exposed on a daily basis to new and reemerging pathogens, a pattern that is continually exacerbated by factors as wide-ranging as globalization, the use and misuse of medical and agricultural technological advances, unsustainable urbanization, environmental degradation, and changing social and behavioral patterns.

The impact of HIV/AIDS in South Africa exemplifies the extreme challenges that a country and its citizens can face at all levels when a deadly disease afflicts a large portion of the populace. The behavior of both individuals and the society as a whole—such as the prevalence of unprotected sex, the poor treatment of women, and the lack

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