Heath security and Ukraine war

Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, a plethora of literature has been written on the non-traditional security threats that emanate from the war. Be it the climate impact or the energy crisis or the food scarcity. However, one critical issue has been left, and which lay in shambles, is Health security. Heath security can be described as,” Health security is a concept that encompasses activities and measures across sovereign boundaries that mitigates public health incidents to ensure the health of populations”. It is way more detrimental if left untouched.

Historically, the disease has, and remains, to be a significant threat to human civilization. Despite the growing technological advancements, innovations have failed to pluck us out of these perils. Whether be it “the black death,” or  ” the great influenza,” or “plague of Justina”, they have always remained unbeatable for a more significant amount of time, causing widespread destruction in the lives of people.

Soon to enter its tenth month, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused more significant destruction to global human security in general and health security in particular. Ukraine’s likely to face persistent public health care challenges. And along with that, it is also becoming a threat to the regional and trans-Atlantic states.

The outbreak of war has compelled people to migrate from one place to another. Around 5 million have fled the country. This, therefore, has resulted in the spreading of prevailing diseases in that particular country, thus risking the lives of people. The recipient country, if it is affluent, can help the refugees and prevent the further spread of disease by constituting a land for this new arrival. While on the contrary, impoverished people who can’t afford to migrate would immigrate inside their country and are less likely to receive assistance and are, thus, more prone to health issues. For instance, the polio immunization campaign introduced by the Ukrainian ministry of health has been suspended following the invasion. Ever since 22 new cases of polio have been identified, the numbers will soar if steps are not taken to ameliorate the crisis.

Furthermore, the constant use of ballistic missiles, by both sides, with the addition of the burning of forests to pave the way for a military caravan, has aggravated the already looming climate change crisis. In return, the rise in weather conditions is becoming a good playground for the mosquitos to breed and bite malaria. Apart from that, due to the deprivation of the ozone layer, the rise in the number of skin cancer is rampant. According to the Brigham and Women’sWomen’s hospital report, the number of cancer patients- including the colon, breast, pancreas, liver, and kidney- is soaring at an exponential pace. Still, advancements in new medical equipment can be diagnosed if detected at an earlier phase. However, still, it is a matter which shall be given significant concerns.

Moreover, besides the previous pathogens, many new pathogens and rodents have become resistant to antibiotics and anti-rodents. This has probably been due to the migration of immune people to the non-immune region. Consequently, the indigenous disease would mutate and might result in a pandemic, which will destroy hundreds and thousands of people. Along with that, the recipient state might not be able to fulfill the cost of innovation for the resistance. In return, it exacerbates the vulnerability of people in that country. The majority of developing and underdeveloped states, and some developed states, have not come out from the brunt of COVID-19. If, god forbid, any new disease started to grow, it might become the last nail in the coffin of human civilization.

Generally said, it takes decades to form a state, but it is only a matter of a few hours to lay it in shambles. The nation-state system in the contemporary era took more than 3 centuries to come to this position. However, due to the negligence of world leaders, it might turn into dust just one button away. Historically, we would have experienced this taste had the two great power during the cold war not decided to halt the conflation through negotiation. Similarly, both the great powers, in fact, the superpower of the time, should remove the bellicosity between the two and come to the table talks to find a war forward for the future world.

Muhammad Imad Abbas
Muhammad Imad Abbas
Studying BS IR NUML , Islamabad