Register for free virtual workshop

Free virtual workshop organised by the African Academy for Migration Research (AAMR) at the ARUA Centre of Excellence on Migration & Mobility

Global Health (in)Security and Immigration Governance in Africa[1]: pandemics, panics, politics and public health planning

19th November 2021 | 10.30am – 1pm SAST

Online workshop at the 3rd ARUA Biennial Conference – Global Public Health Challenges: Facing them in Africa


10.30 – 11.15am (SAST)Screening of ‘Global Health Security’ In Conversation with Professor Sara Davies & Associate Professor Clare Wenham’ conversation’  
11.15 – 11.25am (SAST)Break  
11.25 – 1pm (SAST)Small group activity & discussion  


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).

This 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.

Workshop format

The workshop involves two parts.

Firstly, participants should complete a free online module, that includes background reading and preparatory material (a video – also available as audio only and as a transcript), This involves approximately 1.5 hours of asynchronous work in advance of the workshop. We will screen the video for those who haven’t had a chance to watch it in advance.

Secondly, participants will come together for a synchronous session involving both group work and discussion. We will make use of a Padlet to guide our discussions. On the Padlet you can add comments and contribute to the discussion.

The preparatory content is available as an online module. This is free to register for and a certificate will be issued by AAMR for those who successfully complete the module.

For any questions about the workshop, email Linda Musariri

1.        Aldis W. Health security as a public health concept: a critical analysis. Health Policy Plan. 2008 Nov 1;23(6):369–75.

2.        Elbe S. Pandemics on the Radar Screen: Health Security, Infectious Disease and the Medicalisation of Insecurity. Political Studies. 2011 Dec;59(4):848–66.

3.        Feldbaum H, Lee K, Michaud J. Global Health and Foreign Policy. Epidemiol Rev. 2010 Apr;32(1):82–92.

4.        Feldbaum H, Patel P, Sondorp E, Lee K. Global health and national security: the need for critical engagement. Medicine, Conflict and Survival. 2006 Jul 1;22(3):192–8.

5.        King NB. Security, disease, commerce: ideologies of postcolonial global health. Social studies of science. 2002;32(5–6):763–89.

6.        Wenham C. The oversecuritization of global health: changing the terms of debate. International Affairs. 2019 Sep 1;95(5):1093–110.

7.        Clissold E, Nylander D, Watson C, Ventriglio A. Pandemics and prejudice. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2020 Aug 1;66(5):421–3.

8.        Elias A, Ben J, Mansouri F, Paradies Y. Racism and nationalism during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Ethnic and Racial Studies. 2021 Apr 9;44(5):783–93.

9.        Kwok H. Beyond the anti-racist reason: a postcolonial perspective on pandemic politics. Health Sociology Review. 2020 May 3;29(2):122–30.

10.      Reny TT, Barreto MA. Xenophobia in the time of pandemic: othering, anti-Asian attitudes, and COVID-19. Politics, Groups, and Identities. 2020 May 28;0(0):1–24.

11.      Castañeda H, Holmes SM, Madrigal DS, Young M-ED, Beyeler N, Quesada J. Immigration as a Social Determinant of Health. Annual Review of Public Health. 2015;36(1):375–92.

12.      Grove NJ, Zwi AB. Our health and theirs: Forced migration, othering, and public health. Social Science & Medicine. 2006 Apr;62(8):1931–42.

13.      Hampshire J. The Politics of Immigration and Public Health. Political Quarterly. 2005 Apr;76(2):190–8.

14.      Vearey J. Securing borders: The danger of blurring global migration governance and health security agendas in southern Africa. Occasional Paper: South Africa Institute of International Affairs. 2018;

15.      White AIR. Historical linkages: epidemic threat, economic risk, and xenophobia. The Lancet. 2020 Apr 18;395(10232):1250–1.

[1] Vearey, Jo, Thea de Gruchy, and Nicholas Maple. “Global Health (Security), Immigration Governance and Covid-19 in South(ern) Africa: An Evolving Research Agenda.” Journal of Migration and Health 3 (2021): 100040.