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Lecture 11

HLTH 101 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Project Ploughshares, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Doomsday Clock


Department
Health Studies
Course Code
HLTH 101
Professor
Elaine Power
Lecture
11

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Dr. Elaine Power’s Podcasts
Audio Transcripts
Week 11: War and Refugees
How Does War Affect Health?
- The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion lists “peace” as the first prerequisite for health
o As Levy & sidel explain, “war accounts for more death and disability than many major diseases combined”
- Since war is always human-made, the death and disability it creates can be prevented
- Moreover, the money that governments spend on war and military expenditures is money that is not spent on other things,
including social determinants of health such as education and income security, or health care
o This makes the prevention of war and the promotion of peace an important, though often overlooked, component
of public health
- As Levy and Sidel stated, war has both direct and indirect health effects
o Over 190 million people, both civilians and soldiers, died directly or indirectly as a result of war in the 20th
century
The First World War, 1914-1918, considered the first “modern” war, so horrified the world that it
became known as “the war to end all wars”
In its wake, industrialized countries set up the league of nations, the first international body
with the express purpose of maintaining world peace, preventing future war, and settling
international disputes through diplomacy, negotiation, cooperation and disarmament
o Sadly, it proved incapable of preventing the second world war, which began in 1939
and ended in 1945
At the end of the World War II, fifty-one nations set up the united nations to
promote international cooperation and maintain peace and security
It consists of six main bodies, and includes a number of specialized
agencies, including the world health organization, the world food
programme, the world bank, and UNICEF
- In 2011, Harvard University’s Steven Pinker created controversy with his claim that “we may be living in the most
peaceful era in our species’ existence”
o There is broad agreement that the number and deadliness of wars between nations has declined since the end of
World War II
However, it is difficult to assess death from violence in other historical eras so his claim that we are
living in the “most” peaceful era is hard to back up
o While the world has witnessed terrible wars, genocides and savagely brutal conflicts since WWII, there are also
hopeful signs, including a strong global norm against using military force, peacekeeping efforts, increased
economic interdependence, democratization, increased resources to negotiate peace, and the end of colonialism
However, the bulletin of the atomic scientists estimates that in terms of imminent catastrophe from
nuclear weapons, climate change and emerging life science technologies, we are only three minutes
before midnight on the doomsday clock
o Since it was created in 1947, the hands on the doomsday clock have ranged from two minutes before midnight in
1953 to 17 minutes before midnight in 1991
In other words, the goal of a safe, peaceful, healthy planet is still far from reach
- In 2016, countries with conflicts that have resulted in direct violent deaths of at least 10,000 people in the past year
include Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan
- In 2015, over 65 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes by violence, the highest number since WWII
o Most of these are in the Middle East and in Africa.
- The Syrian Civil War is considered the worst humanitarian crisis of our time
o About half the pre-war population has either been killed or has fled their homes
o The UN estimates that over 250,000 people have been killed, 6.6 million people are internally displaced, and
almost 5 million have fled the country
o Neighbouring countries are taking most of those who have left Syria, with over 2, 600,000 refugees in Turkey
alone
o In Lebanon, where over a million refugees have fled, one in 5 people in that country is a Syrian refugee
Syrian refugees have also come to Canada, but we have taken in far fewer than European countries
In our globalized, interconnected world, we are all implicated in wars and violent conflicts,
even if they happen far from our safe and comfortable homes
- There is much more that could be said about war, violence and health and how to contribute to peace-making as
individuals, communities and nations
find more resources at oneclass.com
find more resources at oneclass.com
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