Ebola Insecurity

Despite the fact that the global Ebola epidemic is no longer in the news its sudden rise and brutal mortality rate has left a lasting impression on millions. Now that it is passed, it is time to look back and see what caused it, and how can we prepare better for it next time. A key factor in the rise of Ebola was the insecurity in the local health care systems around hotbeds for Ebola in West Africa. The world noticed that Ebola could not be contained by tens of millions of dollars poured into stopping it which is contradictory to all of our assumptions about disease, and what our nation can do to protect its citizens.

The root of the problem lies in the lack of medical care in West Africa. In a direct result of the colonial withdrawal and the ensuing civil wars most of West Africa has not been at peace long enough to build a healthcare system capable of handling an outbreak. The Ebola epidemic was exactly what they could not contain, and when their supplies ran out they were left at the mercy of international aid organizations. Millions of dollars was spent of supplies but the lack of infrastructure meant that lots of aid was lost, stolen, or damaged. Physically, West Africa was not prepared for an outbreak, and even when aid was provided the lack of basic medical infrastructure meant that many still went without care.

In the West we were wary, but not fearful of Ebola spreading the US. It is assumed that the CDC can take care of any major disease outbreak it America, but Ebola has got the make us look closer at how our global policies can have major effects on the world, and ourselves. The CDC has specially prepared wards for outbreak patients, where they can be examined and treated without risk to staff, unlike West Africa where a large part of the transmissions were from victim to caretaker. However the existence of these wards does not help the sick African who has no bed, and whose sickness will spread and perpetuate the disease. According to Vinh-Kim Nhuyen the discrepancy between healthcare systems “produced this Ebola epidemic” and should become a key factor in our future policies. It should be a warning to us that despite our millions in aid and our perceived safety net of the CDC that Ebola still got through it all, and our special premade beds may finally have gotten a guest.