Access to Medical Care During the Ebola Outbreak

When the largest ebola outbreak in history struck West Africa, protecting West Africans and Westerners from getting sick became a very difficult task for the CDC.  As of September 14th a total of 2,300 people had died from Ebola since the outbreak began in March. Of the 2,300 150 of those deaths were health care workers. In the article ” Race and the immune-logic of Ebola response in West Africa,” author Adia Benton, discusses Western doctors “rights” over West African doctors to faster treatment for Ebola when they become sick.

In the US, if we hear of Western doctors who have been infected or died due to the Ebola outbreak, we often question why they did not receive treatment faster, and why they were exposed in the first place. We rarely think this about the other 2,300 lives Ebola has already claimed. Earlier this year when two American health workers contracted Ebola, they were immediatly flown back to the US and treated with an experimental drug. Other West African health workers who had contracted ebola had to remain in West Africa with no special treatments. Benton believes our society thinks, “wealthy whites are not supposed to fall ill when they are helping others; they are believed to be immune to the tragedies that befall black Africans.” What gives the American health workers more of a right to be removed and treated over any West African health worker? All the doctors in West Africa risk their lives daily to try and contain the outbreak, however when it comes to which doctors will receive special treatment against ebola, the western doctors always come out on top.

As a society, we need to recognize that better care is available and necessary for all health workers trying to contain the ebola outbreak. No one health workers has a right over another, and they all deserve equal care for risking their lives to contain the worst ebola outbreak in history.