Study classifies infectious diseases as an international security issue

  • 6 de Janeiro de 2015


“Just like wars, infectious diseases are not new problems for man”. It is with this argument that the researcher of Nethis Felipe Baptista leads the first lines of his Masters research in defense of the relationship between the fields of health and international relations.

The study “Governance of New Dimensions of International Security: emerging infectious diseases” is the first Brazilian study, in the field of International Relations, to classify the emerging infectious diseases as a security issue. And second about health in 30 years of the Institute of International Relations at the University of Brasilia (Irel/UnB).


From left to right: José Paranaguá (Nethis/Fiocruz), Antônio Jorge Ramalho (Irel/UnB), Felipe Baptista (Nethis/Fiocruz), Cristina Inoue (Irel/UnB) and José Agenor Álvares (Fiocruz Brasília). Master´s research presentation

Baptista explains that there is great difficulty in predicting when “new” infectious diseases or “emerging” infectious diseases will appear because they originate from viruses, bacteria and other uncontrollable microorganisms . Influenza A H1N1 is an example. It appeared in 2009 and imposed to international health authorities the challenge to contain the epidemic. “There is no way to tackle these diseases apart from the international security agenda and the bibliography confirms that”, says the researcher.

Traditionally, infectious diseases are understood as a risk to international security as they constitute threats to States. The researcher argues that this approach is inadequate, since the epidemics and outbreaks of infectious diseases are a problem for socioeconomic stability, for the operation of international organizations and for individuals and specific groups. “There are other approaches. In the survey, I detail the various possibilities of this analysis, “he points out.

The study presents an overview on how the international governance of emerging infectious diseases developed from the two versions (1969 and 2005) of the International Health Regulations – single international document on the subject. This standard of public health was analyzed with the theoretical tool of international relations proposed by Oran Young.

In addition to the document, the researcher displays various actors-States, international organizations, philanthropic institutions, private companies, non-governmental organizations, among others – and policies that act in the sphere of governance of emerging infectious diseases.

“Studies like this show that health and international relations need to approach. Both would benefit. There is an overlap of schedules and policies that should be discussed jointly by academics and managers “, says the research advisor, Antonio Jorge Ramalho, professor of Irel/UnB and Director of the Pandiá Calógeras Institute from the Defense Ministry.

 Access the resume of Felipe Baptista.