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Infectious Disease Outbreak in Colombia

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Case Overview

Set in 2019. The threat of a potentially large-scale pandemic caused by a mysterious new disease in Colombia has persuaded some governments to impose strict restrictions on trade and travel to South America.

Note: This case does not reflect the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are looking for Model Diplomacy resources addressing COVID-19, see our pop-up cases here.

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The Situation

Several crises over the past decade have highlighted the inadequacy of global health governance and pandemic preparedness. Globalization and its consequences—among them population growth, global warming, urbanization, and easier trade and travel—have all contributed to outbreaks of infectious disease. Since 2000, a series of epidemics, including SARS, H1N1, Zika, and Ebola, have taken a significant toll, prompting experts to call for increased investment in global health security—efforts to help prepare countries to prevent, detect, and respond to potentially pandemic and epidemic diseases. Moreover, debate still exists over the proper strategies to address outbreaks of infectious disease, with national health officials often divided over the proper way to respond to a certain outbreak. With this division, and coordination of international pandemic response still ad hoc, an infectious disease with a greater lethality than those seen in the past decade could have devastating consequences. With an outbreak of Venezuelan equine encepalitis wreaking havoc in northern Colombia and threatening to spill over into already unstable Venezuela, the National Security Council needs to decide how to prioritize and pursue the U.S. interests at stake. Crucially, NSC members must decide whether and how to implement travel restrictions into the country, weighing the benefits of containing the outbreak with the potential of imposing significant costs on Colombia and Venezuela. 



  • Global health
  • Pandemic preparedness
  • Weak states
  • Multilateralism
  • Oil and other natural resources
  • Public opinion



  • Pandemic preparedness
  • Global health governance
  • Colombian health-care system
  • Costs, benefits, and risks of military and other interventions
  • Stable flow of oil
  • Regional security in the Americas

See Also:

The Aftermath of the Pandemic: 

two pop-up cases from the near future

1. Global Recession Recovery

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic, already a global health crisis, will cause a global recession and risks causing a depression without a robust response. What role can and should the United States play in domestic and global economic recovery? 

Click here to view the pop-up case, published 04/09/2020.





2. Preparing for the Next Pandemic

hypothetical pop-up case set in 2025: The world has emerged from COVID-19 and is trying to learn the lessons of the pandemic and prepare for the next one. However, a recent report found many countries are still underprepared. What can and should the United States do to secure global health preparedness before the next pandemic arrives? 

Click here to view the pop-up case, published 04/09/2020.

Photo 1: Closed store signs on a window/ Photo 2: woman walks through room of empty beds

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