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What is health security in relation to public health?

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Health security is a concept that encompasses activities and measures across sovereign boundaries that mitigate public health incidents to ensure the health of populations. It is an evolving paradigm within the fields of international relations and security studies.

Defenders of health security posit that all states including The Gambia have a responsibility to protect the health and wellbeing of their populations.

Why is it important?

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From the definition of health security, it is indeed obvious and certain that it is important, but why?

Health security is essential to achieving human security. Not all health issues are considered threats to national security. Health security focuses on pandemics, epidemics, and the spread of infectious disease. Infectious diseases are the most significant threat to public health.

With recent outbreaks of the Ebola pandemics and Covid-19 epidemics, we have seen a surge in death of citizens and indigenes of the nation of which insufficient provision of health security is a key factor.

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The 1948 WHO definition of health adopts the concept that health doesn’t merely means the absence of disease.


“A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of

Disease or infirmity”

Physical health

Physical health can be defined as normal functioning of the body at all levels; a normal course of biological processes that ensures individual survival and reproduction; a dynamic balance between the body’s functions and the environment; participation in social activities and socially useful work; performance of basic social functions; the absence of diseases, painful conditions, and changes; and the body’s ability to adjust to the constantly changing conditions of the external environment.

Mental health

Mental health can be defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities and is able to cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and make a contribution to his or her community”

How does health security affect the public?

Positive effects          

Indeed, health security affects the public in so many positive ways that which cannot be overemphasized.

It has come to the notice of WHO (World Health Organization) that civic education about health security in under-developed and developing countries will reduce the rate at which communicable diseases are spreading, yes that’s right. Due to skimpy civic education, masses careless about their health especially the diseased individual. As to whether their disease is communicable or not lies in the power of civic health education to bring to the notice of the individual.

Just to mention a few in relation to the above point, it is clear and obvious that when people are made to understand the distinction between communicable disease and non-communicable disease, the spread of diseases such as the novel COVID-19 virus, Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, Rabies etc. will reduce leading to a decrease in infected individuals which will result to low number of deaths.

People get to know when to go for an isolation so as to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

Negative effects

Healthcare/health security of the general population is a major reason education is important.

The World Health Organization has defined health literacy as:

“…the cognitive and social skills that determine the motivation and ability of Individuals to gain access to, understand, and use information in ways that promote and maintain good health.

In contrast, health illiteracy won’t permit for individuals to gain information about their health, promote and maintain good health.

Spread of deadly and infectious disease from one person to another.

Aim of health security

The Global Health Security Agenda aims to close gaps in preparedness and accelerate progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats. Safe laboratory systems and diagnostics, building the capacity to identify disease threats close to the source and inform decision-making.

Bringing this down to a national point of view, the health system of The Gambia should be able to provide the people with a reliable health system to ensure safety from any form of infectious disease.

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