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Adam Throne

Case Study #3

HIV/AIDS

The critical analysis of the World Health Organization(WHO) presented in Laurie

Garrett’s “Ebola’s Lessons” deviates from Kendall W. Stiles’ support for a unilateral

international system focused on HIV/Aids. According to Stiles, the WHO serves as the essential

hybrid for connecting governments and individual scientists. Garrett argues that, although the

WHO is important, it is in serious need of reorganization and realignment. Ultimately, recent

politicization of the health system indicates a concerning trend to individual realism on the

international level.

In her case study, Stiles breaks down the response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic into three

levels of analysis. Through this approach, she emphasizes the importance of an international

health system with the WHO at its head. At the individual level, potential victims and

researchers are responsible for stopping the spread of the pandemic. Civilians are able to stop

the spread of infection by engaging in safe health practices. However, in regions where the

pandemic is most prominent, information regarding these practices is unavailable without

external intervention. Scientists and pharmacists make contributions by developing cures and

publicizing details on the infections. Sadly, these individuals often prefer gaining wealth and

fame to developing a sustainable solution. On the national scale, governments possess the

funds to support campaigns against the pandemic. For example, George Bush provided a 15-
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billion-dollar initiative in 2003. Yet, consumed by capitalist and realist strategies, human rights

often lose priority. Security interests influence the distribution of funds. Developing nations

with high rates of HIV/AIDS are not capable of preventing the spread of infection on their own.

Fortunately, international organizations serve as the link between individuals and governments.

Based in Geneva, the WHO connects diplomats and physicians with the intent of coordinating

policies, spreading information, and discovering breakthroughs. Stiles argues that this structure

has led to an increased appreciation of the importance of human security. It may be the heart

of a new liberal world order that provides human security in an otherwise anarchical world

governed by the state system.

In her analysis of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Garrett supports stiles’ claim

about the important role of international organizations in health prevention. She criticizes the

framework of the World Health Organization itself, though. The World Health Organization has

taken its position of power for granted and, in doing so, has begun jockeying with other

organizations for command of specific cases. The organization is so focused on gaining

influence that it has lost focus of its primary duty of providing expertise. Polarization within the

central structure has made the organization highly inefficient. Garrett would argue that Stiles

does not recognize the emergence of politics in the World Health Organization during the

1980’s AIDS epidemic. The biases on the individual level noted by Stiles regarding HIV/AIDS

carry into the national and international levels. This is particularly evident in publications by the

UN and World Health Organization targeting homosexuals as a source of AIDS. An organization

at the apex of an essential international sector should be a leader in liberal benevolence. The
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WHO has sacrificed this role to support individual realist ideas. This downturn was manifested

in the inability of the international community to respond effectively to the Ebola outbreak.

I support Garrett’s belief that the WHO has developed towards egocentric realism since

the HIV/AIDS pandemic. However, I deduce that this trend is not isolated to the WHO or the

health sector in general. Global politics have fallen into a similar slump. As the global hegemon,

the United States is to the international system as the WHO is to healthcare. In the twenty-first

century, the United States has taken its position of power for granted. Education standards

have slipped, economic growth has slowed, and international relations have dismantled. Like

the WHO, the United States stood the unopposed leader of western policy during the latter half

of the twentieth century. The nation took the lead on the Marshall Plan and Cold War strategy.

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it seemed as though there was little political

opposition. However, there has recently been far more pressure from rising global powers

including Russia and China. Garrett would argue that the United States stagnancy is the result

of the same political disparity that exists in the framework of the WHO. Individual politicians

are so focused on personal agendas and self-advancement through the party system that they

fail to support the United States goal of continuous undisputed global leadership. An event has

yet to occur that threatens the United States like the Ebola outbreak threatened the WHO, but

it would not surprise me if one were to occur during the current administration. Although the

international system is trending on paper towards a liberal identity through organizations such

as the European Union and United Nations, the continuous pressure of realist objectives

threatens the ability for this structure to function. As long as realist strategies persist, a clear
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leader must remain the balancing power. Like the WHO, the United States must settle internal

politics to merit its position in this role.

Garrett supports the idea presented by Stiles that a unilateral international health

system is the most effective format, but he argues that the WHO does not fulfill its position in

this role. Internal politics, realist desires, and polarity have caused the organization to become

ineffective since the outbreak of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This escalated to an ineffective

response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak. I argue that the mindset which has limited the

functioning of the WHO is not isolated to the international level or healthcare. The United

States serves as a strong example of a nation which has been impacted by individual realism. In

order for the global political system to endure, politicians must become aware of this rising

issue and adjust accordingly.