Category Archives: Health Protection

9/11 – Reflections from a Public Health Perspective

It’s September.  This is the month when the critical appraisal papers *generally* are chosen for the January Part A FPH Exam, *typically* from the BMJ… (so I’m making a mental-note to review papers which were published at the end of the month).  But this isn’t just any old September…

This September marks 10 years since the ‘9/11’ attacks.  On Tuesday September 11th 2001, four coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda were carried out on the United States.  Reflections on this 10 year anniversary have started to creep onto all the news channels, and I assume these reflections will be sustained until the anniversary day (a week today). But how can a public health perspective contribute to such reflections…?

Handily, The Lancet have today published a series of articles which examine the health consequences of the 9/11 events.

The editorial “9/11 – Ten Years On” observed that the US governmental responce focused on defense, security and emergency preparedness.  Not only did this encourage fear and anxiety amongst the general population, it stigmatised many muslim communities and individuals.  Furthermore, health was pushed onto the backseat of political agendas, and the author suggests that:

“.. 9/11 was a huge opportunity cost for the health of the American people.”

As well as US domestic health effects, the 9/11 events have had international consequences.  One postitive outcome has been an increased post 9/11 commitment to global health encompassed by the US national security strategies.  The US recognised that investing in global health (amongst other aspects of development) had positive outcomes in terms of stability and security for their country. 

The 9/11 events, responses and consequences have provided a lot of reflections and learning for public health; from the micro (such as individual health protection, occupational health, suicide attacks), to the macro (health policies, emergency preparedness and reponse).

Articles of interest include:

“The events of 9/11 not only represent an example of a local act with global consequences, but also an instance where poverty and perceived injustice can contribute to catastrophic global instability and insecurity. It is now abundantly clear that human-made crises will, if not resolved decisively through politics and diplomacy, create the conditions for human-made disasters.”