Freedom of movement, a term that has existed for many years is a civil right concept encompassing the right of individuals to travel from place to place. In this modern era, globalization and digitization connect people across great distances and bringing them together due to the growth of far recaching media convergence and broadened the horizon (UNESCO, 2016). People are witnessing the most conspicuous manifestations which is the unprecedented volume and speed of human mobility in this present era. From international tourists to war-displaced refugees, more people are on the move than ever before (Institute of Medicine,2006; UNESCO,2016). This can be illustrated by people travelling more frequently and visiting places that were once considered as remote parts of the world. More importantly, this movement has the potential to increase the transmission of infectious diseases (WHO,2012). As a result, increase cross border and cross-continental movement of people have manifested in the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. In contrast, research suggests that the advancement of biotechnology and vaccination coverage around the world have helped to reduce the transmission of disease (Greenwood, 2014). Biotechnology provides leveraging technology to allow rapid detection of various diseases whereas vaccination acts as an accelerated immunization that protects humans from the invasion of pathogens. Therefore, infectious diseases are preventable by using vaccines and biotech. Nonetheless, the disease can still be spread due to the concerning factor such as human contact. Hence, the main purpose of this writing is to focus on the increased freedom of movement that can lead to a higher rate of diseases around the globe.
These days, the emergence of new infectious diseases or the re-emergence of diseases are causing concern and travel have become a major contributor to the spreading of diseases. World Tourism Organization (2011) states international tourism in 2011 has hit 982 million which is an increase of 4.7% from 2010. According to Bauer (1999), travel is the main source of the epidemic and has an inseparable link with human existence. For example, travellers will be exposed to a variety of infectious diseases when travelling to developing countries due to the sudden change in environmental factors such as temperature. For instance, malaria is very common in tropical countries such as India and Nigeria (WHO,2013). Therefore, the risk of travellers being exposed to malaria will increase when travelling to tropical countries. Similarly, a serious health risk may arise in places where hygiene and sanitation are inadequate or medical services are lacking. Angelo, et al (2017) has conducted 4 different studies showing that 43%-79% of European travellers are reported to have developed a travel-related illness after travelling to India, Tanzania and Kenya. Another similar study has been conducted observing that 86.5% of U.S. residents have been infected with malaria when travelling back from Africa (Mace, Arguin and Tan, 2015). Therefore, as travel destinations diversify and international travel increases, this poses a health threat to travellers acquiring an infectious disease. Consequently, the increased freedom of movement around the world has led to a higher number of cases of diseases.
Technological advance has not only speed up the transmission diseases but also affected the aetiology of disease and open airways to the movement of infectious disease vector. As modern modes of transportation allow more people to travel around the world, this also functions as an efficient transport system for pathogens (Soto,2009). Research has suggested that transport systems accelerate the spread of infectious diseases such as influenza and coronavirus (Browne, Ahmad, Beck and Tam, 2015). For instance, the cases of SARS and MERS, a severe respiratory illness have illustrated how quickly infectious disease can spread around the globe through air travel (Kulczyriski, Tamaszewski, Tuniewski and Olender, 2017). For example, the in-flight transmission of SARS disease was reported to have spread from China to other distant countries such as France and Germany in 2002. To emphasise this issue, research has also shown that the air that passengers breathe consists of recirculated air from the cabin’s floor level and the air taken from the outside of the aircraft (Ibid,2017). In addition to that, it has frequently been stated that vectors have the ability to survive long flights at temperatures of -42°C (Browne, Ahmad, Beck, Tam,2015). Hence, the risk of being infected aboard an aircraft is high and inevitable due to improperly air circulation and inhalation of viruses in air droplets. As a result, the efficiency of modes of transport networks put people at risk from the emergence of diseases.
When analysing the effects of increased freedom of movement, it is significantly vital to examine the correlation between infectious diseases and the implementation of biotechnology and vaccination coverage globally. It is known that infectious disease poses a threat to the well-being of humans in a short period of time nevertheless this can be alleviated by ensuring that vaccines and biotechnology are accessible around the world. According to World Health Organization (2019), vaccinations and biotechnology has greatly reduced the burden of diseases. For instance, vaccination is available and provided for travellers who are going to endemic places such as Pakistan and India. As an illustration, Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for European travellers when travelling to countries where sanitation and hygiene are poor such as Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa (NHS UK, 2016). Therefore, an increase in movement does not have necessarily related to the rapid rise of diseases. NHS UK (2016) stated that travel vaccines such as Polio, Hepatitis A and typhoid are free for everyone in the UK. In addition to that, vaccine coverage in European countries has been increasing over the years namely, Denmark and Italy (European Commission, 2018). More importantly, vaccination has already prevented approximately 10.5 million infectious diseases every year. The recent statistic also suggests that there is a decline in the incidence of measles as this resulted in an 80% reduction in global measles deaths (WHO,2018). Furthermore, vaccination is also available in developing countries. For instance, Albania has a 96% coverage for MCV1 whereas 62% for MCV1 in Afghanistan in 2017 (WHO, YEAR). Thus, vaccination is a key strategy in combating infectious diseases. As a result, the increased freedom in movement is not a contributing factor to the rise of communicable diseases around the world.
Vaccination is widely used to prevent getting infected by the disease. Yet the most prominent argument that arises from this is that the cost of vaccination and vaccines coverage in certain countries. World Health Organization (2017) concluded that vaccination coverage for certain diseases is still lacking in certain areas such as South-East Asia and Western Pacific. In particular, coverage for the rotavirus vaccine is only 1% in Western Pacific whereas 9% in South East Asia. Similarly, Angola only has 42% coverage for MCV1 and South Sudan with a coverage of 20% for measles virus (WHO, 2018). Thus, in countries that do not have high vaccination coverage for the certain virus, the infected people will be able to spread the local endemic disease to other places when travelling from one place to another. It is also important to emphasise that vaccines are expensive. NHS UK (2016) shows that not all vaccines are free such as vaccines for meningitis, tuberculosis and Japanese encephalitis. For instance, Japanese Encephalitis vaccination costs £112 per dose and it is a requirement to get 2 doses which will be £224 altogether; rabies vaccination costs £85 per dose and travellers are required to have 3 doses which will be £255 (Travel Vaccination, 2018). Therefore, vaccines are costly thus travellers will neglect the procedure of getting vaccinated before travelling to a different country. Hence this increases the cases of diseases as people who did not get vaccinated will be infected and thus bringing the virus to a new foreign place. In fact, vaccination might not be useful for long term travellers. Palvi et al (2014) conducted research to study the effect of vaccination for long term travellers from Greece. Results showed that yellow fever, typhoid fever and hepatitis A were administered to 1647 (74.7%), 741 (33.6%) and 652 (29.5%) long term travellers to Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent respectively (Ibid, 2014). These long-term travellers had sought pre-travel advice and receive vaccination however they are still infected with various diseases. Consequently, vaccination does not guarantee that getting vaccinated is able to prevent communicable diseases. Therefore, increase freedom of movement can increase the cases of disease as the virus is transferable and can be attached to a host to be carried to another area.
In conclusion, the arguments above show that increased freedom of movement around the world has led to a higher number of cases of diseases. As mentioned above, this is due to the increased demand for travelling and also a modern mode of transportation has opened up airways to the movement of infectious disease vectors. Therefore, when people travel from places to places, disease vector attaches themselves onto the human host or the vehicle transportation that enables them to travel across to another country. Consequently, the disease is able to spur and develop by infecting animals or humans. Even though biotechnology and vaccination have been introduced to society to detect, diagnose and combat disease, it does not provide an ultimate solution to stop or prevent the spreading of diseases. Conversely, this requires trained medical personnel to utilize the biotechnology and expensive facilities to develop vaccination thus affecting the price of the vaccines. As a result, even with the implementation of vaccines and biotech, infectious can still spread when humans move from one place to another.