Throughout history, nations have waged war against epidemics from bubonic plague to pulmonary tuberculosis. Today we confront HIV/AIDS, SARS, and avian influenza, among other major infectious diseases. Scientists around the world scrutinize viruses and bacteria more intently than ever. Yet while scientific advances are crucial, they are insufficient. The world is not well prepared for the next health crisis. This timely book argues that the battle against infectious disease epidemics must be fought on two fronts. The first, of course, is the laboratory. The second is the wider social context that involves ordinary individuals and groups, legislators, and the state. The failure to contain HIV/AIDS and the emergence of new infectious diseases highlight the inadequacies of current preventive and management approaches to deal with epidemics. The authors of Crisis Preparedness offer perspectives from social science, epidemiology, and public health, collectively seeking to answer the question: How can we prepare for the next global epidemic?
Stella R. Quah is professor of sociology at the National University of Singapore, Singapore. She is on the advisory boards of the British Journal of Sociology , Health Sociology Review , and Asian Population Studies. She also serves as editor of the Health Systems Section, Encyclopedia of Public Health (Elsevier).