Health Security as a dimension of the European migrant crisis

Posted on Posted in Analyses, Intelligence and Security, Migration

By Evangelia Katsifou, Associate Contributor KEDISA

“Whether naturally occurring or intentionally inflicted, microbial agents can cause illness, disability, and death in individuals while disrupting entire populations, economies, and governments. In the highly interconnected and readily traversed ‘global village’ of our time, one nation’s problem soon becomes every nation’s problem as geographical and political boundaries offer trivial impediments to such threats.”

Marc Smolinski, 2003

Historically, health has occupied the lower echelons of national needs. Over the previous decade, nonetheless, national arrangement factors have progressively examined the malicious effects that health emergencies may have on national interests. Subsequently, specific health issues sometimes have been upgraded inside national agendas. In the final decade of the twentieth century a lot of challenges postured by infectious diseases-in a globalized situation -started to be re-conceptualized as dangers to national and human security. The most generally connected model for recognizing and reacting to such dangers is securitization hypothesis, as proposed by the Copenhagen School, but its utility remains contested.
The end of the Cold War opened a huge space for the thought of dangers of a non-military nature. A lot of international relation majors started to think about how is it conceivable to tell that “X” is genuinely a risk. What are the pointers for a health challenge turning into a danger and, once it is recognized thusly, what is the proper international policy “treatment”? Should it be a cruel mutilation of a suspicious state from the nation-centered organism or maybe a cure might impede and prevent the spread of the disease? Infectious diseases are widely recognized as global concerns, they do not respect borders, and their carriers- in a globalized world- are not easy to be placed under house arrest.
Nowadays with an estimated 214 million people moving globally and 750 million people migrating within their own country, there can be little uncertainty that population mobility is among the main arrangement issues of the 21st century.
As a result, a lot of vagrant systems of migrant networks facilitate mobility and circular migration, and more specifically, they have extended in exceptional ways. However, there has not been equivalent improvement of composed arrangement ways to deal with the health implications connected with the contemporary migration. Internationally, there are a lot of international institutions that enclosure and defend a lot of essential variables for an orderly and proper function of the international system such as international aid, security, immigration enforcement, trade, and labor, but they rarely include the health sector and they often have distinctive, if not contradictory, objectives. As discussions on “global health governance” and “global migration governance” grow, it will be a matter of emergency for policy-makers to take part in cross-segment coordination and to develop and to espouse protectionist policy approaches.
Health policy-making in the context of migration has generally been viewed either in terms of its “threats” to public health or from a rights-based approach that focuses on health hazards faced by individual migrants and the associated service challenges(PLOS Medicine) The previous focal point goes back to medieval isolate measures and organizes general wellbeing security and transferable illness control, depending intensely on checking and screening (e.g., tuberculosis, pandemic influenza). The rights-based point of view is later and grounded in medical ethics which they perceive migrants as vulnerable and excluded, and discriminated.
This year the most crucial issue that will shape global health in 2016 might be linked with migration. In this specific case the focus shifts to Europe, where the WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe) and its 53 euro-members cooperate in order to face the challenges and complexities of the migration associated with emergency situation in the WHO EURO Region. The background of emergency migration in the WHO EURO Region contains a lot of unpleasant incidents, especially during the last two decades, connected with the factor of global health, such as the Collapse of the state-socialist regimes in Eastern Europe in 1989, the War in Kosovo in 1998-99, 1994-1996 First Chechen Warthe Civil war in Tajikistan (1992-1997), the First Chechen War (1994-1996) and the recent Northern Africa Crises (Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria) etc. It is obvious that migration is rather a recurrent phenomenon in the WHO EURO Region and thought-out the many health issues associated with irregular migration it’s empirical proven that they require an adequate response. Yet health risks related to migration process associated with emergency or crises situations are not fully studied despite the growing number and intensity of such events (WHO/Europe).
Every crisis brings to the surface an agenda of reform and the need of restoration of the affected sector. In this case the core problem is the policy the health systems seen under a community regional policy scope. History has shown that there are two approaches, on the one hand there is the Traditional approach which is related with the “exclusion” and it is a national-oriented policy in which the overarching objective is the security and the disease control, and on the other hand there is the multi-dimensional approach of inclusion which is more sociologically oriented and aims to reduce the inequities in social protection in health with an inter-sectoral methodology.
Yet, another thing that history has proven is that even inside global associations it is hard to securitize a health risk because of political contemplations. As the later paper on the Biological Weapons Convention illustrates, states can oppose the outer securitization of health dangers by worldwide associations by both demanding that they—instead of the United Nations—be the ones to recognize and give an account of a potential natural weapons use (Enemark 2010). More than ever, health affects the most pressing global issues of our time: national and human security, socioeconomic development, and the global movement for human rights. Good health is not only a result of but also a condition for development, security, and rights.
The procedure of securitization is intersubjective scope of act that is neither an issue of a real threat estimated after an objective assessment or a subjectively rendering of a rule of inference. Instead the securitization of a subject relies on upon a crowd of people tolerating the imposed securitization.
Some global health threats may catch us off-guard, for instance the obnoxious spread of Ebola, that was not yet envisaged until the 2014 outbreak, especially in West Africa, which had never before experienced it. Other menaces though have been seething discreetly for quite a long time are presently evolving and getting hard to be detected and eradicated.


• WHO Regional office for Europe (http://www.euro.who.int/en/home)
• Committee on Emerging Microbial Threats to Health in the 21st Century, Board on Global Health, Institute of Medicine, Microbial Threats to Health: Emergence, Detection, and Response, (2003) National Academies Press
• PLOS Medicine (http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/)