Global Health (in)Security and Immigration Governance in Africa: pandemics, panics, politics and public health planning

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Whilst concerns around the ways in which health is increasingly co-opted by approaches to national security are not new (1–6), the Covid-19 pandemic has, in many ways, provided an unwelcome opportunity to witness these concerns unfold in real-time. The pandemic highlights how existing, and growing, tensions relating to the movement of people across national borders – that manifest as xenophobia, racism and nationalism – continue to frame popular imaginations of the spread of communicable diseases (7–10). In many ways, this is unsurprising: immigration and its intersections with health have long been established as divisive issues, both politically and socially (5,11–15). Historically, public health practice was premised on ideas relating to containment and “often served as ‘a medical rationale to isolate and stigmatize social groups reviled for other reasons’, particularly immigrants and racial and ethnic minorities that personified frightening social change (16)” (5).

The full online workshop will involve individual and group virtual engagements to unpack lessons learned since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the continent in early 2020 and think through their implications for ensuring appropriate, migration-aware, pandemic preparedness in the African context. We will explore prevailing discourses relating to immigration and health, and consider how the securitisation of both migration and health may negatively impact public health globally, and will unpack the intersecting governance approaches to global health, immigration, the (contested and poorly defined) global health security (GHS) agenda, and the politics inherent within and between these frameworks. The workshop aims to explore the political factors influencing the (dis)connections between migration and health governance structures in the context of Covid-19, and how to overcome these in the context of a pandemic.