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Human Security and Health Report (Assessment)

Human security

  • Human security is a diverse concept that cannot be defined or determined by one scholastic view. The fact that people every day are exposed to different vulnerabilities and threats calls for many forms of human security.
  • According to the UNDP human security includes adequate protection of all human beings from threats such as food, environmental, health, economic, personal, community and political insecurities.

Human security and health

  • According to Ivan Illich, health is basically an adaptation process. The process results from an autonomous and culturally shaped reaction to realities created by the social settings.
  • Health can also be defined as the ability of a person or individual to normally exists and function in a relationship that his/ her cultural context allows at any point in his/her lifetime. Additionally, health can be viewed as the condition that results from that ability.
  • Dubois believes health is the ability of people to adapt to the dynamic environment and the social situations that characterize life. Effectively the “social situations” refers to cultures that different people have.

All the above are important to human survival. However, some carry more importance considering their effect on human beings on everyday life.

Good health normally encompasses access to nutrition in the right amount and disease and stress free life. Human security is only possible if elements like survival, safety, opportunity, dignity, agency and autonomy are available. The above elements are crucial to the achievement of universal health for all people (Acharya 2001).

The field of health has for a long time been hampered by gender differences and inequalities that have bred huge gaps between males and females situations.

These differences affect the extent to which members of both genders access health as a basic human security need. The elements listed earlier are a precursor to achieving good health and especially reducing vulnerability to HIV/Aids which is one of the biggest global health challenges.

The third world is the most affected in terms of HIV infections and the aftermath impacts. Women form the majority of the people infected in these regions severely limiting their health hence rendering them insecure.

In the third world, and specific instances of fairly advanced economies like china and Brazil, women and girls have a higher rate of HIV infection because of their dismal positions in terms of economic and social status. It severely impacts on their sovereignty standing that the UNDP stresses is one of the pillars of human security. According to


Women in most cases are disadvantaged and underrepresented in various fields of human development especially literacy, income and education. According to statistics, (Garry and Murray, 2001):

  • Two thirds of the world’s over 800 million illiterate people are women
  • The average pay for women who perform the same work as men is less by 30-40%
  • In education, women are generally outnumbered by men in terms of enrolment and school completion

Women’s health and HIV Aids-the facts

According to the WHO

  • There has been a steady increase of adult women living with HIV/Aids since the year 2000
  • In selected places in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia, HIV/Aids has been cited as the leading killer of women
  • Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of people infected with HIV/Aids and one of the places where more women than men are infected and dying with HIV/Aids
  • Some studies have proven that women get infected with HIV at an early age compared to women of the same age group

The above facts point to part of the negative impacts of gender related inequalities that have deprived women of the right to good health, which is critical to human security.

Personal Perspective on Health and human security

Human security is achievable. However, it depends on the person’s background and status. I have not experienced any discrimination, I have access t good health and my human security status is satisfactory. Everybody should be able to achieve that.

Economic Empowerment and Poverty

Hassan (2002) contends that

  • Economic security and opportunity are necessary in bargaining for good health hence human security. Compared to men, women have less of both. According to facts:
  • Poverty has necessitated the creation of a risky environment that increases chances of people especially women of getting infected with HIV. This is through the aggravation of the lack of access basic services like educations and health. Additionally, HIV has been cited as the cause of people losing their sources of livelihoods, stigmatization and failure to access good healthcare.
  • Women and men infected by HIV has been pushed further into poverty due to persistent global inequalities
  • Many governments have implemented austerity measures that have include slashing of expenditure on social programs like healthcare, education and social protection. In the aftermath, more women than men are affected especially considering the fact that women generally are at a disadvantage than men when everything is help constant

HIV/Aids and food Security

Buzan (2002) says that,

  • Death through HIV has led to labour shortages in the areas most affected
  • Women form the biggest portion of agricultural labour in third world countries. Effects from HIV have led to their declining productivity hence threatening food security in many households and larger communities
  • There an intricate interaction between HIV/Aids related mortality, reduction of farm labour and the faltering economy of the households have forced elderly women in poor health in third world countries to assume responsibility for orphans under a very complicated human security situation

War, human security, gender and HIV Aids

According to (ul Haq 12),

  • Women are exposed most in situations of war especially through rape and other related crimes
  • In the aftermath of war, women are vulnerable and in higher risk of HIV especially through prostitution. Additionally, they are exposed to rape especially in the refugee camps


  • There is need for a gender oriented approach to HIV/Aids within the context of human security. The approach should focus on increased roles of women in economic development
  • Men should become more involve in HIV/Aids prevention and management especially given their positions as family heads, decision makers and bread winners.
  • There is need to implement affirmative actions like the Beijing Plan for Action that will champion the rights of women as minorities
  • Authorities must roll out and implement gender based HIV/Aids programs that are primarily aimed at improving the health of women hence their human security index
  • Good governance and cooperation between countries on issues on gender, women’s health and HIV/Aids

Discussion questions

  • What in your opinion surpasses human health in terms of importance?
  • What other factors do you think are as important to human security as health?
  • Do you have any experiences with an epidemic and / or pandemic?
  • What is your country’s situation on HIV/Aids?
  • What in your opinion is the way out in eliminating health problems in developing countries?

Primary Readings

Gender, women and health: Gender inequalities and HIV

HIV/AIDS as a human security issue: a gender perspective


Acharya Amitay. “Human Security in the Asia-Pacific.” In Mely C.Anthony and Mohamed Jawhar Hassan, eds. The Asia Pacific in the New41 Overview of Health and Human Security Case Studies Millenium: Political and Security Challenges. Kuala Lumpur: Institute of Strategic and International Studies. 2001.

Buzan, Bary. “Human Security in International Perspective.” In Mely C. Anthony and Mohamed Jawhar Deepa N , et al. Voices of the Poor Crying Out for Change. New York: Oxford University Press. 2000.

Gary King and Murray Christopher. “Rethinking Human Security.” Political Science Quarterly 16(4): 585–610. 2001.

Hassan, eds. The Asia Pacific in the New Millenium: Political and Security Challenges. Kuala Lumpur: Institute of Strategic and International Studies. Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada. 2002. Web.

ul Haq, Mahbub. “New Imperatives of Human Security.” RGICS Paper No. 7. New Delhi: Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies (RGICS), Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. 1994.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Human Security and Health'. 27 June.

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