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Responses to pandemics and the changes in response strategies have in history changed across decades. A world pandemic refers to an epidemic that occurs globally or which covers an extensive area, crossing international boundaries and which affects a large population of people. Great pandemics have over time affected millions of people globally health-wise, economically, and psychologically. These pandemics have called for different response strategies over the years.

Plague of Athens

The pandemic happened between 430-425 B.C and its cause was a subject of controversy (Konstantinidou, 2019). Back then, doctors did not know of the existence of micro-organisms. People resulted to neglect of the disease since nothing could be done with the small knowledge back then (Sallares, 2016). However, the disease further sparked research after many years as scientists tried to identify the disease later on to no avail. It was unclear which disease it was at the moment.

Antoine Plague

There were an estimated 2000 deaths per day as a result of the plague on the first outbreak and 5000 on the second. The stakeholders suffered losses throughout the empire and it was the beginning of the fall of the Roman Empire (Harper, 2016). The huge numbers of dying soldiers were to blame. As a response, the emperor recruited weaker able-bodied men, freed slaves, and criminals. Other countries such as Germany used the opportunity to cross the Rhine River as the forces were weak. For the ones who survived, there was food scarcity, shortage of workforce, and disruptions in domestic and international trade activities.

Plague of Cyprian

Many people passed away during the time. As a response strategy, the people opted to use mass graves to bury the dead in Egypt. The people responded with fear more so after two emperors back then succumbed to the disease (Kearms, 2018). The leaders back then forced people to give sacrifices as a way to cleanse away the disease which created tensions between pagans and Christians back then.

Plague of Justinian

The disease had killed a lot of people with a mortality rate of 50% until the discovery of the bacterium causing the disease by a researcher. This was followed up by a lot of studies concerning the disease with two types of teams using different approaches in diagnosing the disease (Drancourt &Raoult, 2016). These were PCR-based diagnosis and scientist working on ancient human DNA. Researchers, therefore, invested their time and resources to show how differences in scientific fields could be used to look for alternative ways of treating diseases.

Black Death

Recent research indicates that the responsible pathogen for Black Death may have existed as early as 3000 B.C. due to the highly contagious nature of the disease, healthy people distanced themselves from the sick as a response strategy (NA, 2016). Physicians also resulted in the use of crude and unsophisticated methods such as boil-lancing and bloodletting to try to find a cure to the disease.

The 1918 Flu Pandemic

The disease had major socio-economic consequences and fatalities. As a response strategy to avoid panic among citizens, local authorities failed to reveal the numbers of affected and dead people. Institutions also carried out their surveillance and employed voluntary and mandatory quarantine to curb spread as this was the only effective measure by then (Martini & Gazzaniga, 2019). However, research through bacterial and virological analysis of samples preserved from infected soldiers and people who succumbed at the period was a major step in understanding and future preparedness of the disease.

Cholera Pandemic

This disease has caused several pandemics since its first strike. The research was done for the disease and many articles written about the severity of the disease. These studies showed the social inequity, different values and beliefs, contours of daily life, and formal ideologies and informal decisions of political organizations (Chigudu, 2020). People understood the social gaps between people and cholera was spreading faster to more congested and unhygienic environments.


The disease was characterized by many infections and fear of rapid global spread. There was a shortage of doctors and medical supplies. Governments allied as a response strategy to help Serbia, the most hit country at the time (Pisarri, 2018). Stakeholders from other countries were afraid of spread especially the rest of Europe and America and therefore a special medical commission was formed to help fight the virus.


There were massive campaigns by the WHO worldwide for vaccination against the disease. Governments and other health organizations conducted vaccinations until the WHO declared the disease as eradicated (Melamed & Israely, 2018). Stakeholders, which are the governments, in this case, made sure that vaccines are easily available despite the disease being eradicated. Governments have also continued research for other diseases related to smallpox.


The disease had a high mortality rate, mostly among children. Stakeholders globally agreed on eliminating this disease. The World Health Assembly set targets to control measles and reduce mortality rates for children by 95% (Patel & Gacic, 2016). Countries in all parts of the world adopted the measles elimination goals. One of the major strategies was immunization among children which was taken by all health stakeholders.


The disease affected a lot of people. As a result of the casualties, research was done in medicine to come up with drugs for the disease. During the 1980s many saw it as an end to the disease due to the enhancements and medical discoveries so far (Tuli, 2016). However, with the impact of the AIDs pandemic, the fight was far from over. Governments however yearly invest in advertising against the disease and offer free treatment services for the affected.


To this disease, many people responded with stigmatization towards affected patients. The disease dates back to 3500 BC. Since then, people had discriminated against affected people (Nyamogoba & Mbuthia, 2019). The disease prevalence for many years invited many doctors and researchers to study it. Research made the causative agent be discovered in 1873 and was labeled the first bacterium to cause disease to humans. People also believed Leprosy to be a punishment from God hence the discrimination.

Yellow Fever

The disease originated in the 1600s and caused the deaths of thousands of people. Stakeholders in the health sector investment in research and preventive health measures (Gubler, 2018). The research resulted in control of the disease in the 1950s making it a major success in the medical sector. This also resulted in a psychological relaxation in the medicine sector making researchers think that the war on infectious diseases had been won. More so, global organizations such as WHO joined the fight against the disease with an estimated 80 million doses produced in 2018, enough to provide emergency vaccination to help contain new cases (Kupferschmidt, 2016).


The malaria pandemic caused many deaths worldwide. This resulted in intensive research on causes and possible medication for the disease and medication was eventually found (Kern, 2016). WHO responded by recommended artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) for malaria treatment. Initially, these drugs were produced by the use of plants. People invested in the supply of plants for drug production resulting in shortages and price fluctuations. Kern (2016) describes this as an incentive for the use of synthetic biology as a response strategy to the malaria pandemic. This involves the production of high yielding biological production of artemisinic acid which is a producer of artemisinin (Kung & Lund, 2018).


The HIV pandemics’ initial response by many stakeholders was high levels of stigmatization to groups perceived as high risk (Enoch & Piot, 2017). Governments also put forward strategies to limit the spread, such as limiting travel for people with HIV. Global policies were also formulated as a response strategy. WHO framed AIDS to be a human rights and ethics

issue by taking into account the bigger social determinants and violence underlying the disease then. Another remarkable response strategy was the investment in research for HIV medication. According to Farooq & Hameed (2016), scientists have spent the last thirty years in efforts to revolutionize the antiretroviral treatment. Researchers and scientists put in solid efforts to help develop effective, safer, and affordable antiretroviral treatments for infections.


The disease originated in Wuhan China in late 2019 (Guo, 2019). A response a few months later, many restrictions were put up to stop the spread of the disease. The major one was travel restriction, making people unable to use airplanes. Many employees were laid off, and others given compulsory leave. An example is of Qantas Airlines, grounding 18 of its aircraft and freezing staff recruitment while ensuring 30,000 of their employees took their annual leaves. Stakeholders also accepted technology with the use of technology for research and health records (Ting & Carin, 2020). Internet of Things has provided platforms to allow health agencies in accessing data for monitoring the disease and providing real-time updates on new cases.


Pandemics massively affect countries and derail growth for some time until they are controlled. Pandemics directly hit the medical and economic sectors. From the common pandemics, people have over time invested and gained interest in the research and medicine sector.

Stakeholders can help reduce the negative impacts of a pandemic. From mobilization of funds and emergency funding, embracing technology to research, stakeholders can ensure that life after pandemics goes on and that economies are not so badly hit.


Chigudu, S. (2020). The political life of an epidemic: cholera, crisis and citizenship in Zimbabwe. Cambridge University Press.

Drancourt, M., & Raoult, D. (2016). Molecular history of plague. Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 22(11), 911-915.

Enoch, J., & Piot, P. (2017). Human rights in the fourth decade of the HIV/AIDS response: an inspiring legacy and urgent imperative. Health and human rights, 19(2), 117.

Farooq, T., Hameed, A., Rehman, K., Ibrahim, M., Qadir, M. I., & Akash, M. S. H. (2016). Antiretroviral agents: looking for the best possible chemotherapeutic options to conquer HIV. Critical Reviews™ in Eukaryotic Gene Expression, 26(4).

Gubler, D. J. (2018). Pandemic yellow fever: a potential threat to global health via travelers.

Guo, Y. R., Cao, Q. D., Hong, Z. S., Tan, Y. Y., Chen, S. D., Jin, H. J., ... & Yan, Y. (2020). The origin, transmission and clinical therapies on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak–an update on the status. Military Medical Research, 7(1), 1-10.

Kearns, A. L. (2018). A Plague in a Crisis: Differential Diagnosis of the Cyprian Plague and its Effects on the Roman Empire in the Third Century CE.

Kern, M. J. (2016). Global Epidemics, Pandemics, Terrorism: Risk Assessment and European Responses.

Konstantinidou K. Review of Samuel K. Cohn, Jr., EPIDEMICS (2019): HATE AND COMPASSION FROM THE PLAGUE OF ATHENS TO AIDS, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, 656 pages. The Historical Review/La Revue Historique.16:255-60.

Kung, S. H., Lund, S., Murarka, A., McPhee, D., & Paddon, C. J. (2018). Approaches and recent developments for the commercial production of semi-synthetic artemisinin. Frontiers in plant science, 9, 87.

Kupferschmidt, K. (2016). Yellow fever outbreak triggers vaccine alarm.

Martini, M., Gazzaniga, V., Bragazzi, N. L., & Barberis, I. (2019). The Spanish Influenza Pandemic: a lesson from history 100 years after 1918. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene, 60(1), E64.

Nyamogoba, H. D. N., Mbuthia, G., & Mulambalah, C. (2019). Endemicity and increasing incidence of leprosy in Kenya and other world epidemiologic regions: A review. African Journal of Health Sciences, 32(3), 38-62.

Patel, M. K., Gacic-Dobo, M., Strebel, P. M., Dabbagh, A., Mulders, M. N., Okwo-Bele, J. M., ... & Goodson, J. L. (2016). Progress toward regional measles elimination—worldwide, 2000–2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65(44), 1228-1233.

Pisarri, M. (2018). THE TYPHUS EPIDEMIC IN SERBIA IN 1915: THE ROLE OF DR RICHARD STRONG’S AMERICAN MEDICAL MISSION. Acta historiae medicinae, stomatologiae, pharmaciae, medicinae veterinariae, (28), 71-85.

Sallares R. plague (2016). oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics.

Ting DS, Carin L, Dzau V, Wong TY. Digital technology and COVID-19 (2020). Nature medicine. 26(4):459-61.

Tuli, S. M. (2016). Tuberculosis of the skeletal system. JP Medical Ltd.

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