Epidemics: Science, Governance and Social Justice, the new book in our Pathways to Sustainability series, highlights the problems of emergency knee-jerk responses to serious outbreaks of disease.
Of the many cases in the book, one is the story of the response to swine flu in Egypt. To address the disease, the government launched a nationwide cull on pigs. But the pigs had been a key part of an informal waste recycling industry – consuming much of Cairo’s waste. The cull led to waste piling up in the streets, and destroyed the livelihoods of the Christian minority who had employed pigs as waste recyclers for generations.
Epidemics argues for the need to incorporate alternative understandings about the social, biological, environmental and technological causes of disease outbreaks. It also suggests how policy-makers can be alert to short-term and long-term factors when planning ahead for disease.