Health security
ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato (The Philippine Star) - September 20, 2019 - 12:00am

Globally, health security is defined as “the activities required to minimize the danger and impact of acute public health events that endanger the collective health of populations living across geographical regions and international boundaries.”

I have come to understand in these past few months exactly how crucial health security is in terms of protecting the nation as a whole. Historically, in terms of national priorities, health has occupied the lower levels of interests.

However, more and more and in these present days we are witnessing our lawmakers realize the disastrous impact a health crisis may have in terms of national interest, especially when these issues pose as grave threats to our society. It is important therefore to identify which health issues present themselves as potential crises in relation to national security in order to provide for the welfare of the people.

Research has shown that severe and persistent changes in health status have direct and indirect impact on national security and that epidemics may lead to destabilization, political unrest, civil disorder and long-term slump of the economic viability of a country or region.

It is comforting to know that there is stronger recognition on the importance of health issues and its implications on national security through the combined efforts of our health and policy makers by educating the public on the potential security impact of certain disease-related issues that truly affect the general well-being of our nation.

The impact of HIV/AIDS for example is a clear indication of how our youth as well as the workforce suffer not only in terms of the life threatening effects of the disease but also the stigma attached to it.

Being able to characterize a health issue as a security threat empowers both the State as well as communities to address areas of crisis and bridge opportunities that will enable productivity and growth.

Good health is a value shared by all. It provides peace and stability which is why it is very much linked to national security.

Health security must be understood as part of a national defense strategy as it is what completes a stable and peaceful society. This is also what we mean by convergence. Health security is a humanitarian endeavor which must include the most vulnerable people.

Protecting public health is critical to every nation and certainly, policy building combined with consultation from experts is essential in lessening illness as well as civil disruption. Giving strong priority toward  a sustained and focused commitment for health security is essential to saving lives and minimizing political and economic instability.

An effective health response empowers the nation as a whole. It is very much a part of what we call the whole of nation approach.

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