Public Health Engagement Aff Notes

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Public Health Engagement Aff



This is the Public Health Engagement Aff and Neg.

*~Basic Introduction~*

Public health in China is a really big problem and spans a variety of issues, including disease, public health education, healthcare, counterfeit drugs, etc. The thesis of the affirmative is basically that the public health system in China has proven to be very inefficient and not capable of combatting diseases ever since the SARS outbreak in 2003. The plan contributes U.S. aid to reform the public health system in some way, specifically through China’s pandemic control (which can encapsulate a lot of the issues noted above). Although the solvency cards are really great in talking about how the U.S. and China need to work with each other to build public health infrastructure and reform the system, it’s really difficult to find a solvency advocate that says that we should specifically work on one single thing with China. That’s why the plan text only says aid—there are a couple of benefits: firstly, it allows the affirmative to not have to specify what specifically they do (it could be training, expertise, resources diverted to local governments, research and development, sharing of disease technology, etc); secondly, it means that because we don’t specify what we do, the affirmative can argue that they leave it up to China as a way of drawing back and working as equal partners rather than telling China what to do—this can be a good way to frame the aff when answering kritiks; lastly, it’s easier to win a spillover of how public health measures can spillover to other social issues in China if the targeted problem area overlaps.

There are three main advantages: disease control, the economy, and soft power. Disease is pretty self-explanatory: the plan stops diseases from coming that would risk extinction if a pandemic broke out. Although it may seem like a weakness at first, one of the great parts of this aff is that it’s not specified which specific disease is coming because it’s impossible to predict zoonotic diseases, which this aff is centered around. Zoonotic diseases are uniquely lethal because 1) they mutate easily and can transfer from animal to human, and 2) they travel extremely fast—it can cover the continents in 15 hours before anybody detects something. China is uniquely likely because of things like its dense population and constant movement of people and animals—I highly recommend reading all of the Sparrow evidence from the 1AC to get a better understanding of the likelihood of disease breaking out.

The economy scenario is just that a pandemic would destroy the economy, and not only through dead people, but also through changed behavior of survivors—reference the Begley evidence.

Lastly, there’s a very unique scenario in soft power: the argument is that public health diplomacy is much more effective as leverage in international affairs, more than cooperation over things like counter-terrorism or political alliances. The plan increases public diplomacy, which is the cornerstone of soft power. If the U.S. has more soft power, they will be able to foster more cooperation on other issues when that goodwill spills over.

*~Strengths and Weaknesses~*

The main strength in this affirmative lies in the fact that I just think this affirmative is true (public health is such a big problem everywhere), and since the overarching theme is disease, it’s pretty hard to win an impact turn to disease. However, it’s a lot harder to win the nuances than the thesis of the aff: the internal links are susceptible to examination, especially the internal link to extinction.


Because the thesis of this aff is pretty true, a lot of arguments you need to make against neg case arguments are just intuitive and analytical common sense (i.e. China is uniquely key because their population is one of the largest in the world, they interact heavily with domesticated animals, there’s no access in rural areas to health care, etc.) Long and Erickson are two major authors on this topic and a lot of cards are written by them, especially on the solvency level—read them carefully!

Because the aff claims to solve for a laundry list of impacts, you can isolate any one of them and go for them as individual extinction scenarios in the 1AR or 2AR if they win impact defense to the general claim but you find a reason why their reasons don’t apply to a specific scenario.

You should alter your strategy depending on whether you are hitting a team that is more policy-oriented or more kritikal. If you are hitting an extinction-claims team, you should defend the wall. However, if you are hitting a more kritikal team, you can always kick the extinction claim and go for structural violence impacts from the aff and how disease affects marginalized communities. The economy scenario is useful here because you don’t have to win it causes extinction; it’s just an internal link from disease that has a lot of structural damage. A lot of potential answers to things like kritiks of apocalyptic rhetoric or disease representations can be found elsewhere—I’ve tailored the answers to be responsive to the other popular files at this camp.


I think that in order to win on a straight policy strategy you absolutely have to win lots of impact defense to the aff. There are a lot of impact d and impact turn files that you can draw from outside of this file, so I didn't put a lot of answers that I thought you wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere.

On case, I’d suggest developing multiple alt cause arguments in the block, and find an off-case argument that can turn disease fairly obviously. For example, there are many other drivers of soft power, and it’s also a viable impact turn to go for—the same goes for the environment. I strongly recommend against going for topicality—on face-value it may seem that pandemic control does not seem like economic or diplomatic engagement, but public health diplomacy is a real thing and the cards about its importance to foreign policy are really good.

Finally, if you choose to use this file during the year, there are a couple of things you should watch out for and update often:

  1. The U.S. and China have already been working together on scientific/medical research together; pandemic control has not been done yet (thus is the beauty of not specifying). If they do end up doing some kind of cooperation in the future, you will probably need to change the plan text to make it a bit more specific to limit out what’s already been done

  2. Soft power uniqueness—the current card is from 2015, and America’s status in the international community may change more throughout this year, especially given the upcoming election 

  3. There are a lot of small diseases breaking out in conflict areas in the status quo—if they begin to spread you can make new, more specific scenarios out of them.


Christina Li / Interlake High School ’17 / RKS Lab 2016

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