And now, the war on Ebola…
Using the term security threat for a health issue can be a double-edged sword. On one side, once something is labelled a security threat it becomes a priority. It receives attention, funding and a degree of political commitment it probably not otherwise get. The human security literature has long complained that we need to open up the term security to include things like health, poverty and economic development so they get the type of attention traditionally reserved for ‘high politics’ i.e. military issues. However, securitizing health issues (labeling a disease as a security threat) can mean that the problem is approached like a traditional military security threat. The main concern becomes how to protect the capacity and interests of the state, and those infected by the disease are not seen as its victims, but as part of the threat.
See William Aldis, 2008. “Health security as a public health concept: a critical analysis” Health and Policy Planning 23(6), 369-375.