Cover: The Global Threat of New and Reemerging Infectious Diseases

The Global Threat of New and Reemerging Infectious Diseases

Reconciling U.S. National Security and Public Health Policy

by Jennifer Brower, Peter Chalk


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In the post-cold war era, new amorphous challenges to national and international security have emerged. These threats do not stem from the actions of clearly defined individual states but from diffuse issues that transcend sovereign borders and bear directly off the the effects of increasing globalization. Such “gray area” phenomena are redefining the nature and understanding of global stability, challenging policymakers to develop new, non-state-centered paradigms of security. This report focuses specifically on the threat posed by new and reemerging infectious diseases, providing a more comprehensive analysis of the security implications posed by pathogenic microorganisms than has been done to date. The study examines the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa, highlighting this particular crisis as a graphic example of the devastating effects that infectious disease can have on virtually every aspect of a state’s functioning viability. It also makes a detailed analysis of the United States, delineating the threat posed by specific diseases, assessing the effectiveness of the existing public health infrastructure, and offering specific actions that can be taken to improve the country’s ability to meet this emerging challenge.

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Table of Contents

  • Summary PDF

  • Preface

    All Prefatory Materials PDF

  • Chapter One

    Disease and Human Security PDF

  • Chapter Two

    Factors Associated with the Increased Incidence and Spread of Infectious Diseases PDF

  • Chapter Three

    AIDS in South Africa: Extent, Implications, and Response PDF

  • Chapter Four

    U.S. Security and the Risk Posed by Infectious Diseases PDF

  • Chapter Five

    U.S. Capabilities to Counter Infectious Diseases PDF

  • Chapter Six

    Conclusion PDF

  • Appendix PDF

  • Supplemental

    Supplementary Materials PDF

Book Review Excerpts

"Brower and Chalk's book is a powerful and useful argument for the urgent need to integrate and streamline public health and national security strategies."

- Emerging Infectious Diseases

"The SARS virus is only the latest sign that infectious diseases truly are a global threat. With world travel so commonplace, concerns about the mysterious new illness went world-wide almost instantly. In 'The Global Threat of New and Reemerging Infectious Diseases', Jennifer Brower and Peter Chalk make the case that government officials need to put just as much focus on infectious diseases as they do on bioterrorism… The health risk from disease is widespread -- and as SARS shows, it's not something that can be contained within one nation's borders. Brower and Chalk's short book provides evidence that in this case we must both think and act globally. "


This research was conducted by RAND as part of its continuing program of self-sponsored research. RAND acknowledges the support for such research provided by the independent research and development (IR&D) provisions of RAND's contracts for the operation of its Department of Defense federally funded research and development centers.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.