Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Politics of Ebola

One of the interesting things about the Ebola outbreak this year is that it is purely political in nature.  The country believed to be the main source of this outbreak--Liberia--has been in political turmoil for decades.  That has left country with little to no public infrastructure.  And in that environment, social diseases like Ebola can run rampant as hospitals and clinics don't have the staff nor the medicines to treat people early in the outbreak.  And there is basically no governmental presence to head up and oversee any response.  So it has fallen upon the the rest of the world to come in and do the best it can to work in very difficult conditions.

The spread of Ebola to the US is political in nature as well.  More than seven-thousand cases concentrated in a few West African countries should have led to a moratorium on flights and travel from those countries to the US.  But the face of Ebola is obviously a Black face--and President Obama stood to face criticism from those on the left as bowing to "racial discrimination" by keeping people from that area out of the country.  There is already plenty of criticism on the internet from liberals who question if the world response to the outbreak would have been different if Ebola started in Scandanavia instead of West Africa.  As of this morning, there is still no indication from the White House if travel restrictions will be placed on anyone arriving from the Hot Zone.

And the concern over the arrival of Ebola here in the US is highlighting the fact that we do not have a Surgeon General.  President Obama's nominee is being held up in the Senate because of his plan to list gun violence as a "public health crisis".  That has Republicans staunchly opposed to that nomination, because they see it as a potential backdoor route to additional gun control.  That leaves us--the most advanced medical nation on the planet--without a point person to direct the overall response to the Ebola threat.  Yes, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control has become the face of our containment efforts--but that is not a Cabinet-level position that can bring the forces of multiple agencies and departments to bear on fighting the disease. 

So if this gets any worse--and if fear starts to grip the nation--don't blame the patients, or the doctors and nurses or even the media.  Blame the politicians that put into place the conditions that are really allowing this situation to exist.

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