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INTD Team Project: Health in the Developing World

The Spread of Diseases as a Result of Globalization

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The Spread of Diseases as a Result of Globalization
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    As a result of globalization, the world is increasingly vulnerable to a pandemic. Such a pandemic could spread through the world within hours due to global trade’s transfer of products, people and animals.

      Infectious diseases are a leading cause of death worldwide. There are also many diseases that are re-emerging, including new multiple-drug resistant strains of tuberculosis, malaria, and cholera. In addition, there have been new diseases identified, some of which are HIV/AIDS, ebola, and hepatitis C. Unfortunately there are not yet cures for many of these diseases (Barks-Ruggles).

      The spread of disease is increasingly becoming a problem as globalization increases. The force of globalization seems wholly unstoppable (snowball effect?). People’s travel and the exchange of goods appears to be increasing exponentially. The number of passengers traveling to the U.S. increased from 27 million in 1984 to 66 million in 1996 (Barks-Ruggles).

      The increasing globalization of food sources is another risk factor. Plants, soil, foodstuffs, water, ships and planes that carry goods may also bring diseases. In one specific case, it was discovered that mosquitoes were laying eggs in tires, and the tires were moving all across the United States. The mosquitoes were carriers of dengue fever and the West Nile virus (Zwerdling).

      Currently, the major pandemic threat is avian influenza. If the virus makes a successful host transfer from birds to humans, the world is in for a lot of trouble. The world is greatly unprepared for the havoc it could wreak.

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Suggestions:

  • A global surveillance network, which could identify and eliminate diseases in the country where there is first an outbreak, could hopefully make it possible to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Cooperative efforts between the developed and developing world could also reduce the spread of disease. If the West takes an active role in helping to develop health care systems and infrastructure, this would not only prevent the spread of diseases, but would also have very important development implications. As a result of having access to health care and vaccines, children’s health would improve. This could lead to children being able to get a better education, and in the long run could lead to economic growth and development.
  • Standard protocols for vaccines and testing for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other fatal diseases should be created, which could be used by all countries. Countries should work together to create vaccines.
  • Commitment to eradication of diseases that have not yet developed resistance to standard treatments. For example, polio, measles, river blindness, and Guinea worm, are all diseases that we do not encounter any more in the developed world.
  • The reform of international intellectual property rights to make it possible for drugs and medicines to be affordable for everyone.
  • Public-private partnerships could improve and expedite the development of disease treatments. For example, tax incentives could be given to companies to encourage them to manufacture diseases that affect mainly the developing world (Barks-Ruggles).

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In conclusion . . . .

      Globalization is an unstoppable force. There is no point in trying to pretend as if it can be controlled. Although there are many negative effects of globalization, and thus far it has most likely been more damaging than beneficial to the developing world, there is hope for the future. That hope is dependent upon a commitment from the West to begin improving the conditions in the Third World.

      As a result of the threat of the spread of disease, the West is now invested in the condition of the developing world in a way it hasn’t been before. Although it is unfortunate that it takes a threat upon Westerners before the governments will take large scale action to improve conditions in the developing world, and not from an altruistic nature, it is necessary to seize any viable opportunities for development.