02 October 2014

Ebola

So I'm annoyed enough about this to post it in more than one place:

I'm really bothered that few people seem to care much about Ebola unless there's some sort of perceived or real risk to Americans.

WHO has been saying for many months that more help from wealthy countries is necessary to get this outbreak under control.  But no one really seemed to pay attention until a couple of Americans were infected and then flown to the US for treatment.  

But after they were treated and recovered, everything quieted down again and WHO kept asking for more help without getting anywhere near enough.  Meanwhile, Ebola cases continued to spread.

Then, finally, Obama announced that many more Americans would be going into West Africa to build hospitals and provide more support. I hope this is happening and that the US and other countries are willing to commit enough resources and people to make a difference because West Africa needs help right now. There was some uproar about that too (personally, I'd far rather a loved one be sent to Liberia to build hospitals than to a military conflict).  Still, we are a long way from getting this outbreak under control.

Now everyone is in an uproar about one person who is in the US with Ebola.  Yes, the man knew he had been exposed and could (maybe should) have done things differently.  However, unless he is a US citizen, it's very unlikely he got a visa and booked a flight in the few days since he was exposed.  I think it's much more likely he already had this trip planned and hoped he wouldn't get sick.  I can think of a lot of reasons why he'd make the choices he did.

But this case in the US is distracting us again from the real problem which is combating the disease in West Africa.  Travel bans would make it harder to stop the outbreak (and unfairly punish those who were going to help) and they keep the focus on protecting Americans to the exclusion of everyone else.  It seems much more logical to fight the disease at its source than focusing on its very distant fringes.

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