Model of health? Distributed preparedness and multi-agency interventions surrounding UK regional airports.

Research paper by Adam A Warren, Morag M Bell, Lucy L Budd

Indexed on: 06 Dec '11Published on: 06 Dec '11Published in: Social Science & Medicine


The liberalisation of the European aviation sector has multiplied paths of entry into the United Kingdom (UK) for the international traveller. These changing mobilities necessitate a reconceptualisation of the border as a series of potentially vulnerable nodes occurring within, and extending beyond, national boundaries. In this paper, we consider the border through the lens of port health, the collective term for various sanitary operations enacted at international transport terminals. In the UK, a critical player in the oversight of port health is the Health Protection Agency (HPA), which became a non-Departmental public body in 2005. A major part of port health is preparedness, a set of techniques aimed at managing, and responding to, emergencies of public health concern. More recently, certain jurisdictions have embarked on public health preparedness work across a number of different geographical scales. Using methods pioneered by the military, this form of 'distributed preparedness' is of increased interest to social science and medical scholars. With reference to case studies conducted in localities surrounding two UK regional airports following the 2009-10 H1N1 influenza pandemic, we consider the extent to which distributed preparedness as a concept and a set of practices can inform current debates - in the UK, and beyond - concerning interventions at the border 'within'.