“The Coronavirus as a Yardstick of Global Health Policy”, Félix Arteaga (Elcano, Spain)

Global health is one of the few policy areas that can be considered to have been internationalised. Although it remains under construction, it already features many of the distinctive elements of a public policy. Now it faces the challenge of COVID-19, which has been officially classified as a global pandemic.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has just declared the COVID-19 coronavirus a global pandemic . It is the latest in a series of pandemics that have appeared over the course of recent decades with worldwide repercussions for health. Awareness of pandemics goes back two centuries, but the advances in health systems, new treatments and preventive measures created the illusion that they had been eradicated. However, the appearance of new pathogens and the reappearance of others thought to have been controlled, combined with the multiplier effect of globalisation, have aggravated their impact not only as a problem of worldwide health but also as a problem of international security.

To deal with pandemics there is a global security system and policy that already possesses the elements appropriate to a public policy, such as institutions, norms, instruments and a model of global governance, which has moved from taking reactive, exceptional and case-by-case measures (securitisation) to becoming a more preventive and systematic model of response (medicalisation). As with all policies under construction, the progress made by global health policy depends on the priority it possesses on domestic and international agendas, a priority that acquires fresh urgency with each new pandemic and gets forgotten whenever society’s attention wanes. This paper analyses how the COVID-19 coronavirus has put global health policy to the test once again.

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