DOI: 10.12924/johs2014.10010014 |Publication Date: 21 April 2014

Fragile States, Infectious Disease and Health Security: The Case for Timor-Leste

John M. Quinn 1, * , Nelson Martins 2 , Mateus Cunha 3 , Michiyo Higuchi 4 , Dan Murphy 5 and Vladimir Bencko 1
1 Prague Center for Global Health, Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
2 Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universidade Nacional Timor-Leste, Dili, Timor-Leste; School of Public Health and Community Medicine, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
3 Ministry of Health, Dili, Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
4 Department of Public Health and Health Systems, Nagoya University School of Medicine, Aichi, Japan
5 Medical Director, BairoPite Clinic, Dili, Timor-Leste
* Corresponding author
Abstract: Timor-Leste is a very young and developing nation state. Endemic infectious disease and weakened health security coupled with its growing and inclusive public institutions keep Timor-Leste fragile and in transition on the spectrum of state stability. The objective here is to systematically review Timor-Leste's state and public health successes, showing how a fragile state can consistently improve its status on the continuum of stability and improve health security for the population. The case study follows a state case study approach, together with a disease burden review and a basic description of the health portrait in relation to Timor-Leste's fragile state status. Disease burden and health security are directly proportional to state stability and indirectly proportional to state failure. Timor-Leste is a clear example of how public health can feed into increased state stability. Our discussion attempts to describe how the weak and fragile island nation of Timor-Leste can continue on its current path of transition to state stability by increasing health security for its citizens. We surmise that this can be realized when public policy focuses on primary healthcare access, inclusive state institutions, basic hygiene and preventative vaccination programs. Based on our review, the core findings indicate that by increasing health security, a positive feedback loop of state stability follows. The use of Timor-Leste as a case study better describes the connection between public health and health security; and state stability, development and inclusive state institutions that promote health security.

Keywords: development medicine; fragile and failed states; global public health; health security; public health policy


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