The outbreak of infectious diseases frequently go beyond national borders and provide a platform for deepening international cooperation as well as the formation of global governance in the field of medicine (see 5.3.3 Health). These global epidemic outbreaks drive political responses and also have an impact on mobility, tourism, and global trade.
The inherent evolutionary character of infectious diseases and the changing political and societal environment have created new challenges in the fight against epidemic diseases. The most prominent examples include: outbreaks of new epidemics (SARS, Ebola, avian flu, swine flu, Zika), the continuation of older “low-level” epidemic diseases (malaria, AIDS), the return of almost eradicated infectious diseases to developed states (measles, tuberculosis) as well as the public health consequences of new migration patterns, erosion of governance structures in many low income countries, increase in antibiotic resistance and, last but not least, the shift in the vaccination paradigm in many developed countries.
The reaction of the EU and its Member States to the afore-mentioned challenges allows for an interplay between diplomacy, research coordination and management of public health affairs, both in the forms of “science in diplomacy” and “diplomacy for science”.
In particular, the Zika outbreak in 2015 and 2016 triggered an intensive response by the EU. The response was characterised by an interplay between political, diplomatic, medical and scientific communities. The response to the Zika epidemics followed institutional and legal frameworks already established during previous global epidemics, in particular the outbreaks of SARS (2003), MERS (2009) and Ebola (2013).
In addition, the study tackles the knowledge transfer and the best (or worst) practices occurring in individual outbreaks of epidemics in recent decades. It looks at continuity and discontinuity of the institutional patterns of the EU and national responses to epidemic crises. It also presents the emergence of a competition between the political and scientific attention attracted by different infectious diseases.
The lead author of this research case study, Prof Ivo Šlosarčík, has been interviewed to provide you with some key highlights.
Professor of European Integration Studies and Jean Monnet Chair in EU Politics and Administration and Jean Monnet Chair in EU Law, Charles University in Prague
Why do you think infectious diseases can be a good case to analyse its science diplomacy dimension?
You may get all the information about this S4D4C case study in the following references:
– Šlosarčík, I., N. Meyer, J. Chubb (2020): Science diplomacy as a means to tackle infectious diseases: The case of Zika. In: Young, M., T. Flink, E. Dall (eds.) (2020): Science Diplomacy in the Making: Case-based insights from the S4D4C project (Link).
– Poster Report: ·”Science diplomacy and infectious diseases: between national and European narratives” (Link).
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