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Risk Management
Systems For
Infectious Diseases
In cases of pandemics of international importance such as the Zika virus
epidemic that has broken out in recent months and the Ebola epidemic that
has hit the African continent hard, it is very important to recognize the crucial
role that both local governments and the process of global governance has in
such situations.
Through input received at conferences such as these we can thus elaborate a
general framework, at least theoretically, to aid in the development of national
and supra-national systems of control in cases of disasters and pandemics, so
that the loss of life and the suffering is limited to a great extent.
Risk management is a precursor to this type of framework and we, as a whole
body, should offer suitable alternatives to improve the national security
measures and activities undertaken to prevent rather than control such
epidemics which result in huge loss of life which resonates around the world.
In the case of international pandemics such as the Ebola or Zika outbreaks, it is
vital to recognize the importance of engaging communities in a dialogue and
respect their privacy and right to care. Negative examples such as the closing
off of an entire impoverished district in Liberia are good to learn from, having
done much more bad than good by fueling mistrust and restricting access to
basic care.
The forceful enforcement of quarantine and treating people like victims or
biohazards is certainly not the way to go, and we should strive to educate
actors involved in local health care and even international actors on the scene
to slowly start eradicating such misconceptions.
More efforts also have to be done to re-write the entire public health narrative
of such countries, and global governance might do well to step in in this area;
for example, countries with more developed and tested health care systems
might significantly aid by offering input in the way of directing and writing
reforms and implementing programs that have worked in their respective
countries, so that the tide will slowly start to turn from misdirected reactions to a
constructive prevention.
With help from the international community, the countries most in need must reestablish basic health-care and public-health measures such as infection
control, precautions for handling blood and other bodily fluids, as well as triage.
Generally, we can thus name some crucial steps so that the national capacity
for resilience against crises like Ebola or Zika can be strengthened, some with
the help of global governance: isolate and care for patients properly with the
use of medical and psychological support for them and their families, engage
communities by working closely with them to help them understand the nature
of these infections and viruses and what they can do to protect themselves,
support disease surveillance by implementing mechanisms that can locate and
track new cases easily and identify possible sites of infection and re-establish
healthcare systems by making medical care readily available for the entire
population at an affordable rate.
The measures highlighted above, as you can probably tell, speak as much to
the issue of risk management and prevention as they do to handling a possible
outbreak, and it is within our power and grasp to help better educate,
modernize and re-think these systems from a global and international
community perspective so that these people will not have to suffer again.
Global governance and the help of international actors has time and time
again been an engine behind maintaining international security and progressive
standards which help in the development of our entire world. Things are no
different and perhaps even more important on some level in the area of the
international community’s involvement in global healthcare, with different
actors benefiting from each other’s experience, resources and capacity to solve
The role of the global community and global governance in risk management
for possible global outbreaks in the future is and will continue to be huge, but in
my opinion it needs more focused and incisive reforms and implication so that
these commitments are made not only at a talking-points level but also through
concrete steps.
The results of such an international collaboration and implication will be readily
available and palpable and interest all the domains we are here debating; I am
fairly certain that the boost given to the world’s population and level of health
by correctly assessing risk and containing infectious epidemics will speak
volumes and linger on for generations to come.