Nature creates viruses. But people and politics create pandemics. And pandemics create new politics.
In the 1980s, the toxic politics of the response to HIV/AIDS turned a serious but manageable viral threat into a global pandemic that took the lives of 32 million people and brought illness and suffering to millions more. In 2020, COVID-19 emerged into a world where many governments had failed to heed the lessons of the past, and so they were unprepared and unable to stop its global spread. But some countries had learned the harsh lessons of HIV/AIDS, and had contained SARS1, Ebola, Zika and MERS. When coronavirus hit, they knew what to do to save their people from avoidable infections and deaths.
In Unmasked: the Politics of Pandemics, Bill Bowtell draws on his four decades of experience in the global and local politics of public health to examine why some countries got it right with coronavirus while others collapsed into misery and chaos. He looks closely at the critical weeks when poor planning brought Australia to the brink of disaster, until the Australian people forced their governments to put public health before politics. Unmasked reveals how and why our politicians failed us during the greatest public health crisis of this century to date.
In the National Interest is a new series in the Monash University Publishing list that is focused on the challenges Australia confronts. The series informs, influences and inspires public discourse. Showcasing experts both from within Monash and beyond, these short, thought-provoking and accessible books will address the major issues of our times, from public policy to governance and government.