Due to the recent events that took place in the past months, everyone had finally realised what Ebola is; a threat.

Curiously, we suddenly changed our minds about this infection when it spread to our countries, to our homes. Was Ebola a threat or a matter to take into account before its expansion? Were we really conscious of the situation of the main affected areas? And the most important question: have we done enough to help the citizens affected in those areas? We believe we definitely didn’t. Let´s focus on the sub-Saharan Africa region.

First of all, western countries governments have not send sufficient medical aids, and when they did, almost 18,600 African citizens were infected and other 7,000 had already died.

In fact, not only medicines are needed. To fulfil the treatment against Ebola, basic means such as drinking water are extremely important. The treatment focuses mainly on the blood and water loss and without these means the treatment would be completely useless. The precarious conditions suffered by many African states such as Nigeria makes that treatment impossible to carry out.

Ebola outbreaks in the last years and number of victims. Retrieved from   http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-05/mapping-worlds-ebola-outbreaks

Ebola outbreaks in the last years and number of victims. Retrieved from http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-05/mapping-worlds-ebola-outbreaks

It is true that national and international organizations (World Bank, United Nations, and World Health Organization, for instance) are investing and providing financial help to the most affected African countries, but due to the economic crisis suffered by countries like Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leona, that budget is definitely not enough.

More than 1,600 million of dollars are being lost due to the lack of tourism that just makes the situation much more untenable than it was. Also the close of frontiers that has been implemented in Western countries and the reduction of trade is a measure that clearly contradicts itself: investing money to improve the situation and then forgetting about the possible effects of the non-expansion measures. According to the ECA (Economic Commission for Africa), “the decrease of sales in markets and shops, the lack of activity in restaurants and hotels would make the Ebola expansion not just a health issue but an economic one”.

Secondly, the Ebola virus multiplies in West Africa, but this epidemic has killed in western countries only 1,500 people in 35 years. We have to take into account that Ebola is a haemorrhagic fever virus, which is extremely contagious and causes death in 80% of cases.

The fact that nowadays the governments and the international authorities can’t control hurriedly and efficiently a disease like Ebola, reflects some kind hypocrisy very common of well-developed countries.

Actually, a few cases in Europe (Spain, France, the United-Kingdom) and in USA, cause a global alarm whereas thousands of cases per day are diagnosed in Africa. It is surprising that the financial aid sent by Cuba clearly surpasses the one sent by Europe, a region that claims to have a brilliant and solid health system.

Why not sending much more help and financing investigation? Maybe because developing a vaccine costing millions of euros and takes years. As mentioned before, the disease has so far caused 1,500 deaths in 35 years. Definitely, the development of a vaccine would be unprofitable for laboratories as not enough cases affect their areas.

However, when the disease arrives to Europe or even the USA, these countries become to be really aware of the infection and start to take it seriously.

Are we only going to care about a world issue such as Ebola when it could be a threat for us, the members of the developed countries?

Thirdly, since the beginning of the Ebola propagation, many NGO’s plans to eradicate the disease in West Africa estimated the needed around 250 billions of euros. The truth is that a great part of the financial aid came from countries that suffered of the infection. Kenya sent 170 doctors, Ghana became the logistics centre of the UN, Nigeria sent more than 250 medical professionals to three of the most affected areas and provided more than 3,5 millions of dollars to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leona. Also countries such as Ivory Cost and Namibia donated more than a million dollars. According to the Director of Social Affairs of the African Union Olawale Maiyegun,the African response has been tremendous and reflects a huge sense of solidarity because of the lack of resources that these countries possess”.

Meanwhile, the disease continues its expansion in the Africa continent. Surely we often hear and read in the media that there are problems to develop a vaccine or develop a really effective treatment. The truth is that the cases that affected Spain, for instance, have been treated and cured in a 100%, while in Africa the 80% of the cases end up in the death of the patient.

One question can be asked in order to explain this paradox: Did the different organisations invest accurately on the disease’s treatment and cure in Africa?

Just to keep providing some data, according to the Global Burden Disease Compare website created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the illnesses related with contagious infections and communicable diseases in general are the main causes of the 68,46% mortality rate in Africa. On the other hand, in Western Europe, only the 4,24% of mortality is represented by this kind of diseases. Casualty?

In conclusion, there is a need to not only to provide medical aids, but funding to encourage the creation of infrastructure to make African countries strong and able enough to combat diseases by themselves. The global aim should not be only to stop the expansion of Ebola in Africa, but to reaffirm their health system and turn weak countries into solid ones.

It could also help if Western countries start to treat infected citizens as human beings, not only as walking viruses.



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