In Barnett and Whiteside’s essay, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is examined in relation to the rapid globalization and growing inequality around the world. While many people tend to think that globalization is benefiting the world by its many components, such as better communication, more sharing of ideas and information, and better distribution of goods and services to enhance our global economy, Barnett and Whiteside contend that “globalization is not about markets and economics alone” (353).
It is about how globalization has affected our values and views of the world in which we all share since the medieval time, and that these values and views are urged to be changed due to our growing individualism (Barnett and Whiteside, 348). Because of our increasingly excessive individualism, Barnett and Whiteside, in their major argument, calls for the emergency of global health care and “a change in consciousness” on recognizing health and well-being as global issues.
According to them, if we do not enable our ‘blinkers of individualization’ to drop off, our world will not develop into one where everyone shares our common health and welfare (364). Barnett and Whiteside remind us that HIV/AIDS is a global epidemic of which we have been commonly conscious for the first time in history. Thus, they stress on the emergency of global public health as a basis to construct their argument.
The issue is that people nowadays only view health and well-being in the context of themselves and within their own community, but Barnett and Whiteside argue that “health and well-being are not individual concerns, they are global issues” (347). Our approach to disease has changed dramatically since the medieval time. In the past, diseases were contained by brave scientists from the rich worlds who were committed and courageous. However, the problem now lies in the fact that the process of containing diseases is now done in the interests of the rich, “which has an air of charity about it” (Barnett and Whiteside, 348).
Help is offered from the rich only because it adds to their reputation and such kind of charity is subjected to many factors, such as short term funding and its personal nature. Merely providing money to the poor does not face the root of the problem, and pathetically, these rich countries are the ones who “have always tried to keep them in the poorer parts of our cities and whole societies” (Barnett and Whiteside 349) where health care is most urgently demanded.
In order to increase our awareness to the need for a common global public health, Barnett and Whiteside suggest that we ought to revisit and reconsider our views and values about health and well-being. While individualism may lead naturally to a defensive stance towards public health, it is essential to recognize health and well-being as public goods. Furthermore, one of the factors contributing to our defensive stance towards global health care is our perception of nationality.
As people are now living in nation-states, they tend to believe that they are only responsible for their nations, as a result, this created an imagined boundary which Barnett and Whiteside address as “one of the great ‘imagined communities’ within which we live our live – but it is imagined and therefore changeable” (355). To change this perception, Barnett and Whiteside urge people to extend their willingness to help not only beyond ideologies of charity, but also beyond their own nations.
Another issue involved in Barnett and Whiteside’s major argument is the AIDS/HIV epidemic in relation to the flaws of globalization. Whenever the term Globalization appears, people only look at the upsides of it and fail to look into its downsides. In fact, upsides of globalization, such as better communication and distribution of goods, are only shared by the richest part of our world, while certain regions of the world, such as Africa which shares the most number of people infected with AIDS, “remain on the periphery of these trends towards progress and economic dynamism” (Barnett and Whiteside 353).
Since globalization does not reach all areas of the world, which Barnett and Whiteside refer to as an asymmetrical process, this makes the poor become more susceptible to problems when they are faced with an event like the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This is because the poor are more likely to inhabit within a series overlapping risk environments as they endeavor to survive under the world dominated by groups who are only living for their self-interests. Barnett and Whiteside provide two examples that illustrate the domination of these groups: contemporary politicians and multinational corporations.
First, contemporary politicians fail to satisfy the needs of their citizens. When challenges arise, “those who govern and administer them have an interest in their maintenance” (Barnett and Whiteside 355). This creates the presence of many ineffective nation-states and limitations for the governments to develop common health and welfare. Moreover, some large international companies even have greater turnover and reserves than many nation states. For these corporations, it is only when the HIV/AIDS epidemic hits sales do they take
HIV/AIDS on board. Otherwise, they have no incentive to deal directly with the immediate or long-term effects of the epidemic. It has been up to those third- or fourth-order local companies to carry the burden of HIV/AIDS risk. As Barnett and Whiteside put it, “one bears the cost, one reaps the return” (362). Again, Barnett and Whiteside push for “a change in consciousness” (348). The resolution depends upon our reconsideration of our values and views on common health and welfare. People need to understand the true cost of HIV/AIDS.
Business corporations need to alter their values and views on how the role of business can help the HIV/AIDS epidemic and that business has responsibilities beyond profit. Finally, Barnett and Whiteside’s major claim in this essay is to call for responses and actions from the world community that “depends on fluidity rather than extreme bureaucracy” (Barnett and Whiteside 356) so that we can bend global forces to provide more goods to areas that had been on the periphery of globalization to contain the HIV/AIDS epidemic Work Cited