Disease as a consequence of poverty is presently the number one issue that needs to be addressed in concern with international security for several reasons. The reality that poverty perpetuates disease and ill-health is a testament to the fact that global health security can never be achieved without first reaching the goal of poverty eradication. As we become more interconnected through increased globalization, poverty becomes not only a threat to those in third world countries, but living organisms anywhere and everywhere on the face of this planet.
Disease cannot be confined by economic boundaries, although at first a disease may seem partial to impoverished areas, history has shown that affluent societies can be hit just as hard and fast by the same devastating disease that originated half way around the world. Poverty is not only the most important issue in concern with international security, but also the most important in regards to global health, environmental sustainability, and human progression.
Bacteria are an ever evolving species that work to our benefit as humans as well as to our demise. The creation of new strains of fatal viruses is the simple biggest threat to world security. This is so for several reasons, first reason being that the world is structurally not ready for a pandemic of mass proportions. The global structure of health lacks sufficient recourses and planning to combat any real viral threat.
If a serious outbreak were to occur a tragic amount of deaths would undoubtedly result because of the indifference of research and development firms that choose to disregard the production of vaccines for more modern medicines of material value. The second reason lies in the rapid mutation of new diseases that are spreading faster than epidemiologist can identify them. There have been several new viruses that have made great impacts in certain areas of the world just over the past decade. At least thirty new infectious diseases have surfaced globally in the last three decades, while twenty previously detected diseases have re-emerged in new drug-resistant strains.
Avian flu, HIV/AIDS, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), hepatitis C and West Nile virus are just a few of the newly discovered diseases that have spread from the developing world to the United States or other developed countries. In the United States, the number of deaths due to infectious disease doubled to 170,000 between 1980 and 2000. –Rice, CBS The reality is that in this globalized world the spread of disease can impact millions within the span of a week. There are many aspects of poverty that have hindered the health of impoverished societies and consequentially our developed societies as well. One major killer of the developing world is Malaria. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are around 250million cases of malaria a year resulting in over one million deaths. In Africa the situation is direr with a child dying every 30 seconds from Malaria related complications.
Malaria could be easily combatted with the purchase of a five dollar mosquito net, one dollar drug dose, and some DDT spray for homes, but many families in African cannot afford these remedies without assistance. The fact that these families cannot afford these preventative devices means that they and their children continue to get infected giving the virus ample opportunity to grow more and more resistant to drugs and other techniques known to be used against it. The threat of evolving drug resistant diseases is very real, and very scary.
The development of new strands of old viruses is being discovered left and right, one of which has been Tuberculosis. (Sacsh) Peru and Russia have been the hardest hit by this new form of drug- resistant TB. In the early 2000’s this new strand of TB had successful evolved to resist all medicine known to treat it at the time. Only after extensive experimentation and the determination of medical and social activists Paul Farmer and Jim Kim, did a break through occur in treatments against the new super virus.
This virus essentially mutated into an unknown untreatable form of itself causing a massive spread of infections in Peru and even more so in Russia. This could very well be the case for Malaria and other diseases considered to be diseases of poverty because they are given so many opportunities to infect and grow stronger without being compromised. (Rx for Survival) The effects of this endless cycle of poverty are starting to take visible form in more ways than one.
Many intellectuals will agree with the adage, “desperate times call for desperate measures”, and poverty is inarguably a desperate existence in which we in the developed world are beginning to see the results. Somali pirates, to civil wars, and terrorist factions that have sprung into existence over the past 2-3 decades, can all be connected to the consequences of poverty. When a person has nothing to lose, it is a lot easier to risk one’s life for the possibility of everything to gain.
Jeffery Sachs had it right when he said, “the thought that somehow a half-a-trillion dollars of military spending each year is going to protect us from the unhappiness of the world should have been an idea that was abandoned long ago,” Carnegie Council. There has been enough talk without action in the past half century, and it is time that we really make our choice of what we represent as a species. Poverty is the culmination of every major peril we face in our world today and the greatest threat to world health and international security.
We cannot overcome something in unification, when half of the world lives in dire poverty. We live in one globalized world, and the reality of that will only become starker as the years pass. We can either head down the road to sustainability and prosperity or the road of destruction and gross inhumanity. There is a desperate need for change in the perspectives and desires of our society, but I believe that with enough determination and fearlessness, we can eventually change our world for the better.
January 9, 2018
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