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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We can only beat ebola if we defeat it in Africa

Many in the US are in a panic about ebola and in their panic they are suggesting that we cut off all flights from the ebola infested parts of Africa as our first line of defense. From a purely pragmatic point of view this is a strategy that simply won't work. Ebola is a disease that kills most humans it comes in contact with and as long as it is uncontrolled in any part of the human population we are all put at risk.

Because Africa is oceans away from America, stopping travellers from West Africa sounds like a feasible solution, and the subtext of this solution is that its spread within Africa is not such a big problem for us as long as we close our borders to it.

This is nothing but an illusion with fatal consequences for the whole of humanity. Africa may be a long way from the United States but it is very close to Europe, and Europe has already seen that it is incapable of stopping the flow of African immigrants to its shores. The European Union paid the Libyan dictator Mummar Qaddafi billions of Euro's to gain his assistance in stopping the flow of Africans through Libya and into Europe, and he used the most draconian methods without success. These were immigrants driven for the most part by fear of civil war and economic deprivation. Does anyone realistically think Africans fleeing ebola can be kept out of Europe? If ebola spreads to Europe, does the U.S. then also cancel at flights from Europe? Economic crisis would follow, making it even more difficult for the people of the world to combat this virus that is a menace to us all. What is true about Europe is no less true about African immigration to the Middle East and Asia. The first humans were Africans, and their migration by the most primitive means to farthest reaches of the planet eons ago is how our species came to dominate it. How can anyone, in this era of rapid transit, think that a deadly disease, spread by human contact, can be contained in West Africa?

It must be defeated there and it must be defeated now! The little island of Cuba has given an example to the world of how we should respond. While President Obama, as in the movie "Outbreak," has sent soldiers, Cuba has sent more than 160 doctors to fight ebola in Africa. The fact that CNN, Fox News & MSNBC don't talk about this shows how willing they still are to play politics with ebola because if every country were to follow Cuba's lead ebola would already be well on it's way to being defeated.

We learned long ago that just letting your neighbour's house burn would not protect yours. We have seen in our modern era that so many problems that face us all have to be tackled on a global level with all of humanity pulling together if we are to survive. This is true of climate change, the scourge of war, and poverty. This is no less true of the disease called ebola. We must have all hands on deck to defeat ebola now in West Africa. Nothing less can save us from a most terrible global catastrophe.

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