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Managing the global health response to epidemics: Social science perspectives

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Book (peer-reviewed)
Author BourrierMathilde, BrenderNathaliee, Burton-JeangrosClaudine,
Project Organizing, Communicating, and Costing in Risk Governance: Learning Lessons from the H1N1 Pandemic
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Book (peer-reviewed)

Publisher Routledge/Taylor and Francis, London
ISBN 9781138578999

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Only 3 chapters are on OA (Taylor and Francis's website). Chap 1, 3, 4. This book embraces a social sciences perspective at large. It is not necessarily limited to risk communication issues, although those are very important. Nor does it further develop the albeit essential anthropological knowledge base because it is already quite substantial. What it does is explore recurrent challenges that a comparison between the A(H1N1) pandemic and the 2014 Ebola epidemic have brought to light. It aims at telling a complex story – one of managing global epidemics. It connects problems seen from different angles. First, managing epidemics is a transboundary and transnational problem. Second, it mobilizes actors, organizations and resources in different loci, within and outside the Global Health System, locally, nationally and internationally. Third, it sets in motion concepts, frameworks, historically charged actions (coercive measures like quarantines and isolation for example) and others more recently founded (around the preparedness arsenal). Fourth, it triggers controversies of all kinds, and following some of them proved to be an invaluable heuristic to avoid cognitive overflow syndrome and/or simply drowning in the prolific scientific literature and institutional documentation around contemporary global health issues. This book demonstrates that managing epidemics through public health interventions has in fact a fragile social acceptance. Despite potentially powerful biomedical measures, always in development (treatments, vaccines), and centuries-old public health measures (quarantines, isolation, contact tracing, bans, social distancing measures), on which public health interventions rely most of the time, they remain contested outside (i.e. in the public) as well as inside public health institutions. The A(H1N1) pandemic and 2014 Ebola epidemic are both marked by major controversies.