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Human security: a prerequisite for health

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 23 June 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1553
  1. David R Meddings, epidemiologist
  1. International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva

    Recent events in Kosovo will remain in the public consciousness for some time. Many people were killed or injured or experienced some catastrophic loss.

    However unforgettable, human suffering was not the only dimension of this conflict. Kosovo is perhaps the most memorable instance where lack of human security for people living within a state was used to justify military intervention against that state.

    The overlap between the concepts of health and human security is substantial

    Some countries contend that “human security” offers a new perspective to guide foreign policy. But what is human security, and is this concept of interest to those in the health professions?

    The predominant themes emerging from definitions of human security are sustainable access to essential needs and the guarantee of certain rights. However, the definition provokes less controversy than some of the issues that arise in incorporating consideration of human security …

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