Anticipating the Future
To prepare for upcoming global health emergencies, we need to anticipate the future. A future-oriented stance can be currently found at three levels:
- Forecasts, based on trend extrapolation or mathematical modelling, of the future spread and impact of infectious disease outbreaks or other disasters.
- Creation of scenarios of plausible future adverse events for on-the-grounds disaster emergency planning (preparedness, coordinated response, recovery). These events cover predictable events whose frequency is known but whose future developments are unknown (volcanic eruptions, storms), as well as events that are unpredictable but might have a significant impact (e.g., outbreak of a new infectious disease; unprecedented flood or drought, war, unexpected technological disaster).
- Creation of scenarios of plausible future adverse events for policy-making purposes (infrastructure construction, resources allocation, long-term planning, international collaboration).
We propose to use related foresight/futures studies methods to anticipate:
- Potential events that might create new, or exacerbate existing, and avoid or mitigate injustices;
- How the introduction of new or emerging technologies might affect injustices in global health emergencies and how these can be avoided or mitigated, and justice promoted when designing or using these technologies. Examples include, electronic and mobile health (eHealth and mHealth) devices, interconnected sensors (smart cities) and powerful geographic information systems (e.g., mapping slums from space using remote sensing).
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