Securitization of infectious diseases in Vietnam: the cases of HIV and avian influenza

Jonathan Herington

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    The frequent and swift emergence of new and devastating infectious diseases has brought renewed attention to health as an issue of international importance. Some states and regional organizations, including in Asia, have begun to regard infectious disease as a national and international security issue. This article seeks to examine the Vietnamese government’s response to the epidemics of avian influenza and Human immunodeficiency virus. Both diseases have been recognized at different times as threats to international security and both are serious infectious disease problems in Vietnam. Yet, the character of the central government’s response to these two epidemics has been starkly different. How and why this disparity in policy approaches occurs depends largely on the epidemiological, economic and political context in which they occur. Although epidemiological factors are frequently explored when discussing disease as a security issue, seldom are the political, social and economic characteristics of the state invoked. These dimensions, and their interaction with the epidemiology of the disease, are central to understanding which diseases are ultimately treated by states as security issues. In particular, the role of economic security as a powerful motivator for resistance to control measures and the role that local implementation of policies can have in disrupting the effect of central government policy are explored. In exploring both the outcomes of securitization, and its facilitating conditions, I suggest some preliminary observations on the potential costs and benefits of securitizing infectious disease and its utility as a mechanism for protecting health in Asia
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)467-475
    JournalHealth Policy and Planning
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


    • HIV
    • H5N1
    • Vietnam
    • health security
    • health governance


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