Endemic pp 265-290 | Cite as

Dying a Natural Death: Ethics and Political Activism for Endemic Infectious Disease

  • Claire Hooker
  • Chris Degeling
  • Paul Mason
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter addresses the representational politics of endemicity, arguing provocatively that viruses don’t kill people—people kill people. In pursuit of this claim, the authors develop a framework derived from historical studies of public health and from contemporary research in Structural One Health to argue that endemicity is not a natural phenomenon but is rather produced by social and economic policies. The authors argue that causal relations of endemic disease must be restructured in the popular imaginary. This chapter uses epidemics with isolated examples of “endemic” instances (tuberculosis in particular) to consider hierarchies and levels of cause, how these relate to global political economy, and with what implications for preventive and responsive action.

References

  1. Ackernecht, E. (1982). A short history of medicine. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ahlgren, I., Yamada, S., & Wong, A. (2014). Rising oceans, climate change, food aid, and human rights in the Marshall Islands. Health and Human Rights Journal, 16, 69–80.Google Scholar
  3. Ali, S. H., & Keil, R. (2008). Networked disease: Emerging infections in the global city. London/New York: Wiley Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnes, D. S. (1995). The making of a social disease: Tuberculosis in nineteenth-century France. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bashford, A. (2014). Imperial hygiene: A critical history of colonialism, nationalism and public health. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  6. Bashford, A., & Strange, C. (2007). Thinking historically about public health. Medical Humanities, 33, 87–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bauman, Z. (2013). Liquid modernity. London: Wiley.Google Scholar
  8. Bosely, S. (2015, February 25). Ebola endemic in West Africa remains a risk, scientists warn. The Guardian. London. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/25/ebola-endemic-west-africa-scientists-warn
  9. Bryant, C., & Jary, D. (1997). Anthony Giddens: Critical assessments. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Bryder, L., Condrau, F., & Worboys, M. (2010). Tuberculosis and its histories: Then and now. In F. Condrau & M. Worboys (Eds.), Tuberculosis then and now: Perspectives on the history of an infectious disease (pp. 3–23). Montreal: McGill University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Bynum, H. (2012). Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Carleton University Survey Centre. (2014). Ebola risk perception survey. Ottawa: Carleton University. Available at: http://policyoptions.irpp.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/09/Final-Topline-Report.pdf
  13. Centres of Disease Control (2008). The next flu pandemic: What to expect. A CDC fact sheet. In Control CoD (Ed.), Atlanta. Centres of Disease Control: Ga.Google Scholar
  14. Centres of Disease Control. (2012). Self study course SS1978: Principles of epidemiology in public health practice, third edition: An introduction to applied epidemiology and biostatistics: Lesson 1: Introduction to epidemiology. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ophss/csels/dsepd/ss1978/lesson1/section11.html
  15. Colgrove, J. (2002). The McKeown thesis: An historical controversy and its enduring influence. American Journal of Public Health, 92, 725–729.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davies, S. E. (2008). Securitizing infectious disease. International Affairs, 84, 295–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Degeling, C. (2014, August 19). How Western national interest drives Ebola drug development. The Conversation. Sydney. Available at: https://theconversation.com/how-western-national-interest-drives-ebola-drug-development-30530
  18. Degeling, C., & Kerridge, I. (2013). Hendra in the news: Public policy meets public morality in times of zoonotic uncertainty. Social Science and Medicine, 82, 156–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Degeling, C., Johnson, J., & Mayes, C. (2015). Impure politics and pure science: Efficacious Ebola medications are only a palliation and not a cure for structural disadvantage. The American Journal of Bioethics, 15, 43–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Doherty, P. (2014, 31 July). How threatened are we by Ebola virus? The Drum. Sydney: ABC. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-31/doherty-how-threatened-are-we-by-ebola-virus/5638438
  21. Dry, S., & Leach, M. (2010). Epidemics: Science, governance and social justice. London/Washington, DC: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  22. Dubos, R., & Dubos, J. (1952). The white plague: Tuberculosis, man, and society. Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  23. Farmer, P. (1996). Social inequalities and emerging infectious diseases. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2, 259–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Farmer, P. (2000). Social medicine and the challenge of bio-social research. Conference paper delivered at innovative structures in basic research, Max Planck Institute, Ringberg Castle, October 4–7. Available at: http://xserve02.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/ringberg/Talks/farmer/Farmer.html
  25. Fieldman, G. (2011). Neoliberalism, the production of vulnerability and the hobbled state: Systemic barriers to climate adaptation. Climate and Development, 3, 159–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gollust, S. E., Lantz, P. M., & Ubel, P. A. (2009). The polarizing effect of news media messages about the social determinants of health. American Journal of Public Health, 99, 2160–2167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hamlin, C. (2008). Commentary: Ackerknecht and ‘Anticontagionism’: A tale of two dichotomies. International Journal of Epidemiology, 38, 22–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harman, S. (2014, August 14). Ebola, polio, HIV: It’s dangerous to mix healthcare and foreign policy. The Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/aug/14/ebola-polio-hiv-healthcare-foreign-policy
  29. Hershkovitz, I., Donoghue, H., Minnikin, D., et al. (2008). Detection and molecular characterization of 9000-year-old Mycobacterium tuberculosis from a neolithic settlement in the Eastern Mediterranean. PLoS ONE, 3, e3426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hinchliffe, S. (2015). More than one world, more than one health: Re-configuring interspecies health. Social Science and Medicine, 129, 28–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Holloway, K. L., Staub, K., Rühli, F., et al. (2014). Lessons from history of socioeconomic improvements: A new approach to treating multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. Journal of Biosocial Science, 46, 600–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hooker, C., Mayes, C., Degeling, C., et al. (2014). Don’t be scared, be angry: The politics and ethics of Ebola. Medical Journal of Australia, 201, 352–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Isaakidis, P., Smith, S., Majumdar, S., et al. (2014). Calling tuberculosis a social disease—An excuse for complacency? The Lancet, 384, 1095.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jones, J. (2011). Ebola, emerging: The limitations of culturalist discourses in epidemiology. Journal of Global Health, 1, 1–6.Google Scholar
  35. Jones, K. E., Patel, N. G., & Levy, M. A. (2008). Global trends in emerging infectious diseases. Nature, 451, 990–993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kaufman, S. (2014, October 5) Former SC GOP director: Execute anyone who comes into contact with Ebola — ‘it’s just math’. RawStory. Available at: http://www.rawstory.com/2014/10/former-sc-gop-director-execute-anyone-who-comes-into-contact-with-ebola-its-just-math/
  37. Kehr, J. (2012). Blind spots and adverse conditions of care: Screening migrants for tuberculosis in France and Germany. Sociology of Health and Illness, 34, 251–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kelland, K. (2014, September 23). Ever-present endemic Ebola now major concern for disease experts. Reuters. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/23/us-health-ebola-endemic-idUSKCN0HI1OX20140923
  39. Kenny, K. (2015). The biopolitics of global health: Life and death in neoliberal time. Journal of Sociology, 51(1), 9–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. King, N. (2002). Security, disease, commerce: Ideologies of postcolonial global health. Social Studies of Science, 32, 763–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Krieger, N. (1994). Epidemiology and the web of causation: Has anyone seen the spider? Social Science and Medicine, 39, 887–903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lakoff, A. (2008). The generic biothreat: Or, how we became unprepared. Cultural Anthropology, 23, 399–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Larsson, M. (2009). Shattered ANZACS: Living with the scars of wars. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.Google Scholar
  44. Latour, B. (1995). We have never been modern. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Law, J. (2006). Disaster in agriculture: Or foot and mouth mobilities. Environment and Planning A, 38, 227–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Law, J., & Mol, A. (2008). Globalisation in practice: On the politics of boiling pigswill. Geoforum, 39, 133–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lawn, S. D., & Zumla, A. I. (2011). Tuberculosis. Lancet, 378, 57–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lebarbenchon, C., Feare, C. J., Renaud, F., et al. (2010). Persistence of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in natural ecosystems. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 16, 1057–1062.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lupton, D., & Petersen, A. (1996). The new public health: Health and self in the age of risk. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  50. Marmot, M., & Wilkinson, R. (2003). Social determinants of health: The solid facts. Copenhagen: World Health Organisation.Google Scholar
  51. Maron D. F. (2014, December 29). Is Ebola here to stay? Scientific American. Available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-ebola-here-to-stay/.
  52. Morens, D., Folkers, G., & Fauci, A. (2004). The challege of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Nature, 430, 242–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Moser, G. (2014). Radiology in the Nazi era: part 4. Combating tuberculosis between ‘Volksrontgenkataster’ and ‘SS-Rontgensturmbann’. Strahlentherapie und Onkologie: Organ der Deutschen Rontgengesellschaft. 190(6): 615-619.Google Scholar
  54. Packard, R. M. (1989). White plague, black labor: Tuberculosis and the political economy of health and disease in South Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  55. Peckham, R. (2014). Pathologizing Crime, Criminalizing Disease. In Robert Peckham (Ed.) Disease and Crime: A history of social pathologies and the new politics of health. New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 1-18.Google Scholar
  56. Pelling, M. (2001). The meaning of contagion: Reproduction, medicine and metaphor. In A. Bashford & C. Hooker (Eds.), Contagion: Historical and cultural studies. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. Pew Research Center (2014). Ebola worries rise, but most are ‘fairly’ confident in government, hospitals to deal with disease. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.Google Scholar
  58. Phillips, L. (2014, August 13). The political economy of Ebola. Jacobin Magazine. Available at: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/08/the-political-economy-of-ebola/
  59. Rosenberg, C. (1992). Explaining epidemics: And other studies in the history of medicine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Saletan, W. (2014, October 28). Why the GOP insists on finding a military solution for fighting Ebola. Slate. The Slate Group. Available at: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/10/republicans_want_a_general_to_fight_ebola_the_gop_prefers_the_u_s_military.html
  61. Schwartz, D. (2014, August 8). Ebola outbreak: It’s not the virus but Africa that’s changed. CBC News. Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/ebola-outbreak-it-s-not-the-virus-but-africa-that-s-changed-1.2729264
  62. Scoones, I. (2011). Science, policy and politics: Avian influenza. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  63. Seeberg, J. (2013). The death of Shankar: Social exclusion and tuberculosis in a poor neighbourhood in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. In U. Skoda, K. B. Nielsen, & M. Q. Fibiger (Eds.), Navigating social exclusion and inclusion in contemporary India and beyond: Structures, agents, practices (pp. 207–226). New York: Anthem Press.Google Scholar
  64. Selgelid, M., Battin, M., & Smith, C. (2006). Ethics and infectious disease. London: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  65. Selgelid, M. J., McLean, A., Arinaminpathy, N., et al. (2011). Infectious disease ethics. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Seltzer, M. (2014). Crime Between History and Natural History. In Robert Peckham (Ed.) Disease and Crime: A history of social pathologies and the new politics of health. New York: Routledge, pp. 151-168.Google Scholar
  67. Trauer, J. M., Denholm, J. T., & McBryde, E. S. (2014). Construction of a mathematical model for tuberculosis transmission in highly endemic regions of the Asia-pacific. Journal of theoretical biology, 358, 74-84.Google Scholar
  68. Thompson A. (2014, August 19). Ebola: An emergency within an emergency. Impact Ethics. Dalhousie University. Available at: http://impactethics.ca/2014/08/19/ebola-an-emergency-within-an-emergency/
  69. Tremblay, G. (2007). Historical statistics support a hypothesis linking tuberculosis and air pollution caused by coal. International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, 11, 722–732.Google Scholar
  70. Upshur, R. (2010). What does it mean to ‘know’ a disease? The tragedy of XDR-TB.” In Peckham S and Hann A (Eds) Public Health Ethics and Practice. Bristol: Policy Press, 51-65.Google Scholar
  71. Upshur, R., Singh, J., & Ford, N. (2009). Apocalypse or redemption: Responding to extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis. Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, 87, 481–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. van Loon, J. (2005). Epidemic space. Critical Public Health, 15, 39–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Verweij, M. (2011). Infectious disease control. In A. Dawson & M. Verweij (Eds.), Public health ethics: Key concepts and issues in policy and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  74. Wald, P. (2008). Contagious: Cultures, carriers, and the outbreak narrative. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Wallace R. (2014). Neoliberal Ebola? Farming Pathogens. Available at: https://farmingpathogens.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/neoliberal-ebola
  76. Wallace, R., Bergmann, L., Kock, R., et al. (2014). The dawn of structural one health: A new science tracking disease emergence along circuits of capital. Social Science and Medicine, 129, 68–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. WHO Ebola Response Team (2014). Ebola virus disease in West Africa—The first 9 months of the epidemic and forward projections. New England Journal of Medicine, 371, 1481–1495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. World Health Organisation (2013). Pandemic influenza risk management: WHO interim guidance. Geneva: World Health Organisation.Google Scholar
  79. World Health Organisation. (2015). Neglected tropical diseases. Available at: http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/diseases/en/

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire Hooker
    • 1
  • Chris Degeling
    • 1
  • Paul Mason
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical Foundation Building K25The University of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations