Ebola: Insecurity in Caregiving

In the last several months, Ebola has created a panic in the healthcare community as people scramble to discover the best way to give care to those affected by the disease in order to prevent it from spreading. There is the belief that developed countries with more advanced technologies are better adapted and prepared to handle contagious diseases such as Ebola. With this specific case, we tend to construct the idea that there is a good and bad way to handle the disease. This has a drastic impact on the way that caregiving is viewed, especially by those that actually have Ebola. This notion, that Western countries are better able to care for those affected by the disease, has created the idea that hospitals in European countries are more likely to be affective than a facility in Africa. In other words, the meaning we give to certain spaces creates differing levels of security or insecurity.

Sung-Joon Park and René Umlauf believe that it is the greater access to technology that makes Western countries feel a little more secure when faced with epidemics such as Ebola. However, non-Western countries hardly feel the same sense of security since differing levels of wealth restrict them from implementing the same technologies in their own healthcare systems.

Epidemics and diseases seem to expose the structural inequality that exists in society. This is not a simple matter of observing that those in impoverished countries are more likely to be affected to a greater extent than those in wealthy countries. The structural inequality is also visible in the very way that people think about the epidemic. The fact that those in western African countries don’t feel secure unless they are in a western healthcare facility indicates the deep-rooted inequality that exists in healthcare today.

It seems like a basic human right to feel at least some sense of security with regards to healthcare and the Ebola crises has only made that more clear. Hopefully, the epidemic will inspire others to take action to improve healthcare so that it won’t be necessary to travel to a different continent just to feel some sense of hope and security.