IDG week 7 – Patterns in International Politics: Dr. Simukai Chigudu

Date(s) - Thursday, March 2, 2017
12:45 pm - 2:00 pm

Seminar Room 3


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Interdisciplinary Discussion Group
Week 7 – Health Security and the International Politics of Zimbabwe’s Cholera Outbreak, 2008-09


In 2008, Zimbabwe was engulfed by a devastating cholera outbreak resulting in an unprecedented 98,000 cases and over 4,000 deaths. Cholera, however, was much more than a health crisis. The disease signified the nadir of Zimbabwe’s catastrophic political and economic meltdown and became the subject of significant international attention. In this talk, I examine the political discourses surrounding cholera and I demonstrate the ways in which the outbreak was framed as a global ‘health security’ concern. The key debate that I speak to in this talk centres on the question: does the security framing of epidemics actually improve or diminish international attempts to govern them more effectively? This is a pattern widely seen in the international politics of epidemics from SARS to H1N1 to Ebola. I argue that the securitization of the cholera epidemic actually hampered rather than bolstered political and global health responses to the outbreak. I use this case study to evaluate the conceptual and normative value and limitations of the ubiquitous ‘health security’ frame in global health governance.


Simukai Chigudu is a DPhil Candidate in International Development at the Oxford Department of International Development. He has an electric academic background having received training in medicine, public health, African studies and international development. He has previously worked and conducted research in South Africa, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Before beginning his doctoral studies, he worked as a medical doctor in the UK’s NHS.


Free sandwich lunch, tea and coffee are offered by the college. To reserve a spot, or to request special dietary options, email

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