Ebola, poverty and riches

This video says about itself:

Is Ebola The New AIDS? Russell Brand The Trews (E161)

6 October 2014

As flights are cancelled, communities stigmatised & mildly sick people fear for their lives, is it worth questioning what the biggest threat to our collective wellbeing is: rare tropical diseases, or the media coverage of them?

By Emile Schepers in the USA:

We’re asking the wrong questions about Ebola

Wednesday 22nd October 2014

The modern capitalist world exacerbates epidemics, says EMILE SCHEPERS

THERE is panic in the US because a man in the heavily populated Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas, who had recently visited Liberia, has come down with the Ebola virus.

There are indications of a lack of vigilance by the hospital. He was sent home for two days before the institution realised what they might be dealing with, even though he had emphatically warned them about his Liberia trip.

Then it was found that there were no emergency response protocols to sanitise his dwelling place, clothing and bedding, because of a lack of subcontractors immediately available to do the work.

The sick man may have had contact with as many as 100 people in the interim. If any of them have been infected, each of them could have had contact with as many others.

Why should the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and state and local health authorities have been so unprepared?

Why should anybody have been taken by surprise by this situation? Why should the situation in west Africa have been allowed to fester?

Three things characterise today’s world.

First it is highly integrated and there is more trade, travel and exchange of populations than at any time in human history.

This is the result of globalisation driven by the corporate drive for greater and greater profits, which in turn leads to greater instability and massive population movements, of jobseekers and of refugees.

Second, increasingly unsustainable levels of environmental degradation produce such effects as global warming, storms and droughts, and contamination of food and water supplies.

Third, there are ever-greater extremes of inequality both within and among countries. Countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where the epidemic has been raging, are so poor that their state institutional structures are unable to cope with crisis situations, including epidemics, wars and natural disasters.

In short, the potential for Ebola to run wild is caused by capitalism running wild.

An immediate reaction on the part of many in wealthy countries is to pull up the drawbridge, stop people from coming here, and blame the poor countries and their inhabitants for the mess.

Sometimes they even manage to put pressure on the poorer countries to help with this backward approach.

The Liberian government has announced that it may prosecute the sick man in Texas because he did not tell airline authorities that he had helped a person sick with Ebola just before he left.

Rather than engaging in panicky reactions which in the end only worsen the situation, our governments should be reminded of the words of the 17th-century English poet John Donne. Since no man is an island, “therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

We must demand that our leaders prioritise the ending of inequality among and within nations, as well as protection of the natural environment, over the profits of rapacious transnational corporations.

International trade arrangements have to be reworked to the infinitely greater benefit of the poor nations and of the working people of the rich countries.

Slamming the door against the main victims of imperialist exploitation is impossible — microbes know no borders.

Ebola bears a strong resemblance to the “red death” in Edgar Allen Poe’s short story of The Masque of the Red Death.

Prince Prospero had locked himself and his wealthy friends away from the horrible disease that was depopulating his domains, feasting and dancing while the world outside suffered and died.

But it was no use. The red death got in and slew the wealthy as well as the poor.

The number of people infected with Ebola in western Sierra Leone is rising sharply, with government estimates placing the number of deaths in the region at 20 a day. The rate of deaths is so high that removal of bodies is reportedly a problem for health workers and authorities: here.

11 thoughts on “Ebola, poverty and riches

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