How to declare a public health emergency

Yesterday, 1st February 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. A PHEIC is an ‘extraordinary event’ which constitutes a public health risk to other communities through the international spread of disease and would potentially require an international response to bring it under control. This declaration was made following increasing concern about the spread of the Zika virus disease and its link to cases of babies born with microcephaly and other neurological disorders in Brazil. This declaration has a purpose – it will spur into action an international response. Continue reading

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New issue of Limn on “Ebola Ecologies”

Issue 5 of Limn is now available and focuses on the 2014 Ebola outbreak. It is a great resource for anyone interested in global biosecurity emergencies and how global health norms, logics and techniques can be problematised through the case study of Ebola.

The issue includes:

  • Andrew Lakoff on “Two States of Emergency: Ebola 2014” – which questions to what exactly was the international response ‘slow and feeble.’
  • Ann H. Kelly on “Ebola, Running Ahead” – which looks at the design of clinical trials, asking the question: what does experimentation look like in the time of emergency?
  • Nicholas B. King on “Ebola, 1995/2014” – which focuses on the dialectics of confidence and paranoia in the Ebola outbreaks of 1995 and 2014.
  • And Peter Redfield on “Medical Vulnerability, or Where There Is No Kit” – which explores the role of medical humanitarian response

Contributions are made by Lyle Fearnley, Ann H. Kelly, Nicholas B. King, Guillaume Lachenal, Andrew Lakoff, Theresa MacPhail, Frédéric Le Marcis and Vinh-Kim Nguyen, Alex Nading, Joanna Radin, and Peter Redfield.

Thanks to Stephen Collier for the link to this.

The war on Ebola

A great post by Derek Gregory on the metaphorical significance of ‘going to war’ on Ebola.

geographical imaginations

ECONOMIST The war on Ebola

We’ve been here before – ‘wars’ on this and ‘wars’ on that.  It’s strange how reluctant states are to admit that their use of military violence (especially when it doesn’t involve ‘boots on the ground‘) isn’t really war at all – ‘overseas contingency operations’ is what the Pentagon once preferred, but I’ve lost count of how many linguistic somersaults they’ve performed since then to camouflage their campaigns – and yet how eager they are to declare everything else a war.

These tricks are double-edged.  While advanced militaries and their paymasters go to extraordinary linguistic lengths to mask the effects of their work, medical scientists have been busily appropriating the metaphorical terrain from which modern armies are in embarrassed retreat.

Yet all metaphors take us somewhere before they break down, and the ‘war on Ebola’ takes us more or less directly to the militarisation of the global response…

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