Ebola a much-needed wake up call for the West

The President of the World Bank, Jim Kim, got it right when he said last night of the international community: “It’s late, really late……We were tested by Ebola and we failed.   We failed miserably in our response……..Every developed country should be prepared to send trained medical staff to West Africa………We don’t need to stop all travel from these countries.   It’s going to be impossible to stop people.   The way to stop the flow the patients from these countries getting to the rest of the world is to have programmes that will treat people (in their home countries) and increase survival dramatically.   It’s possible”.   But it isn’t nearly happening.   The WHO reports already 3,900 deaths in West Africa from Ebola, though with no sign that the epidemic was being brought under control.

What is causing consternation in the Western nations however is the death of a man in Dallas after arriving from Liberia where he had been in contact with an Ebola victim, a Spanish nurse who has become the first person to have contracted the disease outside West Africa, and now the death of a Briton from Ebola in Macedonia.   Globalisation has opened up a scale of international travel which is virtually unstoppable – unless the World Bank President’s radical proposal is implemented.   But that’s the rub.   The cost will be huge.   Another ~World Bank study published yesterday predicted that the economic cost of Ebola could reach $33bn over the next 2 years if the virus spreads to neighbouring countries in West Africa.   If the first tentative signs of its spread outside Africa could conceivably turn into a world pandemic, the cost can hardly be imagined.


The northern world has failed miserably even more than Jim Kim has complained of in its response to climate change.   Of the £100bn promised at the G9 summit in London in 2009, less than £1bn has been delivered, largely because the victims of climate change have so far been located in the southern world.   The blowback of the consequences went from North to South.   Now that the blowback from the South is threatening to hit the North, perhaps a new understanding of the international realities will begin to seep through the blandness and indifference of the ultra-rich North to the still very poor south in an increasingly polarised world.   It is a lesson that needs to be learnt, and not just about Ebola.   The numbedr of migrants prepared to risk death to escape war, poverty and disease in the south has tripled in the Mediterranean alone to over 110,000 in the last 3 years, alongside the 6,000 migrants who have died trying to cross into the US and the 1,500 who have died trying to reach Australia.   In the latter case the rich countries have sealed their borders.   With Ebola they cannot.  It can only be resolved by reducing world inequality.


2 thoughts on “Ebola a much-needed wake up call for the West

  1. A post so strident, so hysterical and so completely divorced from reality, whilst also being so scientifically illiterate that it hard to dignify it with serious comment.

    On the one hand, “we’re,” spending huge sums bombing an already devastated country into back to stone age yet again and in same breath you’re now demanding further huge sums to support more international rackets like the NGOs and the various aid charities without seeming to perceive any intrinsic contradiction in this.

    Also since Ebola is a virus for which no cure yet exists and may not exist for some considerable time, quarantine and isolation are generally the only realistic response anyway.

    As for pandemic scenario, frankly given means of transmission, (akin to transmission of AIDs, which is already endemic across Africa,) that seem highly unlikely.

    But it may indeed be a wake up call and if such can be made available it would be far better used to improve the integrity and effectiveness of our very permeable and unreliable border controls, rather than throwing it at the usual fat cat charities.

  2. “The virus may be acquired upon contact with blood or other bodily fluids of an infected human or other animal.

    “Spreading through the air has not been documented in the natural environment.

    “Fruit bats are believed to be a carrier and may spread the virus without being affected.

    “Once human infection occurs, the disease may spread between people as well.

    “Male survivors may be able to transmit the disease via semen for nearly two months.”

    So not quite Bubonic Plague.

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