Ebolahaemorrhagic fever Ebolahaemorrhagic fever, or simply Ebola, is a severe illness caused by the Ebolavirus. The symptoms of the virus include headache, fever, muscle soreness, andfatigue. The virus generally takes seven to nine days to manifest into theEbola haemorrhagic fever. Once the virus transitions to this fatal fever, itonly takes three days to cause irreversible brain damage, which ultimately hasa high probability to kill the infected host. The symptoms besides a suddenfever then include vomiting, diarrhoea, and bleeding from the eyes, nose andmouth. Individuals infected with Ebola are highly contagious and can spread thevirus through bodily fluids and direct contact. As of today, humans have notyet discovered any cures unfortunately. Moreover, one of my colleagues who ismajoring in English had mentioned that “Ebola can be described as one of themost horrifying diseases to ever exist in human history.
” He stated that itwould be like a dream come true to write a science-fiction novel on Ebola. The discovery, infected areas, and how it was transferredInthe secluded villages in Central Africa, Ebola was first identified in 1976with two outbreaks that happened almost at the same time caused by twodifferent viruses, “the Sudan Ebola virus (EBOV-S) and the Zaire Ebola virus(EBOV-Z)” (Stein). On average, fewer than 500 cases were reported each year, ifat all. Between 1979 and 1994, however, no cases were reported. In the fall of2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed an outbreak of Ebola in theDemocratic Republic of Congo. At least 70 cases had been reported and 43 deathswithin the first two months following the outbreak. The virus had spread,according to researchers from the New England Journal of Medicine, from “atwo-year-old toddler, who died in December 2013 in Meliandou, a small villagein south-eastern Guinea” (BBC News).
However, this outbreak was a differentstrain of the Ebola virus than the one found in West Africa, which now dwarfsall previous outbreaks. The first case to appear in West Africa happened inGuinea in 2014, due to toddler carrying the virus. The outbreak causedwidespread panic due to its highly contagious nature. The virus had not been athreat to the United States until this 2014 outbreak. Only then, the virusreceived media attention and aid from the United States.
Demography and social economic involvement The outbreak of the Ebola virus inWest Africa increased to a point that it became nearly impossible to contain.The outbreak of the virus “was so large, so severe, and so difficult tocontain” due to the poor living conditions, which in turn limited the amount ofresources available (Chan). In fact, the countries most affected are also thepoorest countries in Africa; Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
In addition, civilwar and times of disagreements had weakened their health systems and severelydamaged the education and healthcare available to future generations, makingthe virus explicitly hard to contain. The infrastructure was not capable ofmeeting the essential requirements for containing the spread. Therefore, the infectedindividuals were not monitored or contained, allowing the infection to spreadwithout much interference.Unemployment was also a major contributingfactor to the spread.
A large portion of the population—almost the entirepopulation—did not have a steady source of income and often travelled around insearch of work. The mobility of the working class contributed to the spread, makingit easy for the virus to jump from one person to others. The virus spread outrapidly as it was being carried from one place to another as Africans searchedfor work. The intersection of the three countries—Guinea, Liberia, and SierraLeone—was found to have the highest rate of infection as a result (Gatherer).The areas affected the most had the lowestpercentage of formally educated citizens.
In a report provided by theAssessment Capacities Project, the majority of Sierra Leoneans population haveno formal education. It was reported that 67 percent ofwomen aged 15-49 years and half of men in the same age group do not have a formal education (Dixon). A 2015 report foundthat Guinea has a literacy rate of 20 percent in rural areas—a verysmall percentage compared to the average literacy rate in the world, which ismore than 85 percent—and 59 percent in urban areas. In 2012, an estimated 38percent of parents, heads of households, had no formal education and almost 50percent of children aged 6–14 had never been to school (Chan). Education thencan be considered as another contributor to the spread of the Ebola virus.Without education, people are unaware of the virus; people are helpless. The use of bad/unethical science behind spread to gainsupport for forcing aid on localsTheWorld Health Organization and Infection Prevention and Control measures attemptedvarious efforts to contain the virus in Africa and to prevent it from spreadingto other countries.
One of the most interesting cases is that individualstraveling to the United States from west Africa were quarantined and notallowed into the country. The measures were then taken by the US government toinform its citizens about the virus and what to do if they or someone they corm into contact with is experiencingEbola-like symptoms. Moreover, since the area where the countries intersect isthe most infected, “decisions to quarantine this area brought extreme hardshipto more than a million people—but were essential for containment” (Chan).
Thebad science used in this issue proclaims the best method to stop the virus fromspreading was to quarantine the area in the three countries and leave it allisolated. The WHO and the IPC did not know what they were going to encounternext upon attempting to implement such measurement. The World Health Organization put inplace several temporary treatment centres in an effort to provide betterpatient care while also containing the spread. Although it might seem like goodscience, what the WHO used was pseudo-science because the infected hosts wereonly treated in Africa.
They assumed the virus would not spread. Nevertheless,the treatment centre’s wryer, often unclean, could have contributed as to thespread because the unclean condition’s exposed valuable workers to the virus.Statistics illustrated that the timerequired for a patient with the infection to be ruled as not infectious wasroughly 21 days.
The time that most patients actually remained in treatmentaveraged one week. The shortage of beds forced the workers to release possibly infectiouspatients into society. According to a report by the WHO, almost 1000 patientswith “confirmed, probable, or suspected infection” were known to need clinicalcare in the week of September 8 through 14 alone, which far exceeds the presentbed capacity in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leona (Dixon). Africans put up resistance to some of the measures Traditionalhealers were being used by many African locals as a form of resistance because duringthe outbreak, they felt that they were being forced to use modern medicine asopposed to their healers. According to records from the World HealthOrganization, a traditional healer lived in the community and was wellrespected and admired by many. During the outbreak, this traditional healer wassought out by hundreds of desperate family members and as a result thetraditional healer was exposed to the virus and died. The funeral attracted themajority of the population—people who also fell ill from the virus.
This is one of the manychallenges that aid efforts faced and it had to do with the lack of culturalliteracy among first world aid responders. The challenge stemmed from the localreligious and cultural practices that held above modern science by followers.The individuals that strictly practiced religion often blamed wrong doingswithin society as being the cause of a mysterious outbreak. It was seen aspunishment from a god because that is the extent to which their understandingof science and medicine has progressed. That is not to say that they are undedicated,but that Africans are unfairly excluded from access to information that couldextend their knowledge.
At the time of the outbreak, this was a serious issue asit often prevented people from reporting the illness. The less people that werereported as ill meant that even more people were at risk of contracting it(Chan).Thisis the most problematic cultural barrier—the belief in natural medicine orspiritual healers—that the WHO and the ICP confronted because there were manyreported cases of healers who fell ill from the virus in their failed attemptsto heal. Simultaneously, they infected a significant amount of people as theoutbreak spread and more people sought them out. The World Health Organization reported that most of thepopulation in some West African countries would rather treat the Ebola viruswith traditional medicine. This kind of traditional healing was a more trustedapproach by Africans than modern medicine. Several reports by the WHO includedthat some healers claimed they could heal Ebola.
Among all the techniques usedin the healing process, the most used was bodily contact between the sickindividual and the healer. It was not uncommon for the healer to make incisionson the sick person as a way of releasing the illness. Trust in these healersmay have led to more deaths.Fear of the treatment and quarantinezonesThe populationin West Africa put up resistance because fear was the greatest motivator forfamilies to hide ill loved ones or take them to traditional healers. Since quarantinezones were seen as the last stop for sick people, relatives attempted to avoidthem. Unfortunately, avoiding the zones did not save any lives. Instead, itexposed more people to the illness.
Fear of not being able to bury the deadcontributed to the spread as well. People wanted to bury the dead in accordancewith their cultural beliefs, however, the treatment centres burned the bodiesto prevent contamination. A common belief for Africans was that the dead neededto be buried intact and with personal belongings in order to continue to theafterlife. Families would hide the sick so that they could bury them once theydied (Chan).
In addition, entire households wryer exposed as a result of fear. Miscommunication because of a lack of resources availableMiscommunicationcan be represented as unethical science because people were left to die on thestreet or in crowded and uncomfortable quarantine tents. The management failedto give the only type of support that could be offered to infected individuals.This type of support did not require the expensive technology and medicalprocedures that other illnesses require today. Because of the low cost andrelatively remedial experience required to make the patient comfortable, theorganizations in control failed at their intended goal (Brussels).
That is if thegoal was to make the individuals comfortable and cared for while alsoattempting to contain the spread. Since this unfortunately was not the outcome,the goal, it seems, was to contain the spread in order to protect everyoneoutside of Africa.Africans,nonetheless, had no way of resisting the quarantine and were forced to obey therules imposed on them by the organizations who were supposed to be helping them(Chertow). Containing the virus was the first priority for these organizations;treating the people it infected was not high priority. This then occurredbecause the people infected did not have access to education and healthcarethat could have otherwise prevented the infection in the first place. TheWorld Health Organization and Infection Prevention and Control failed todeliver therapy and hospice services to make all the patients comfortable.Instead, the people infected by the Ebola virus were left to die on secludedareas like the street or in the uncomfortable quarantine tents.
The WorldHealth Organization failed to support the infected population in West Africa.This type of support, again, can be classified as bad science for the serviceswere said to cure and prevent thousands of people from dying. Nevertheless, thecheap and similar medical help made the patients and relatives uncomfortable—Africansrefused to use their help. The organizations in control failed at theirintended goal and worsened the situation. Their purpose on helping was not tomake the individuals comfortable and safe, but it was an attempt to contain thespread—they did not want the virus to expand. In other words, the goal was toprevent the virus from going out of Africa. ConclusionTheurgency of the issue brought to light the inequalities that African citizensface.
If they had access to the same information and resources that Americansand other rich countries do, the outbreak may have contained itself. Africanswere not able to make the changes called for by the IPC; and since Africa isone of the less developed places in the world, it was almost impossible for theoutbreak not to have arisen. The populations that were quarantined had highlevels of poverty and unemployment and little access to healthcare. Thisfurther segregated them and pushed them even further into poverty.
Africansindeed attempted to put up resistance to the measures, but poverty was key tonot being able to resist. Therefore, if the WHO and the IPC wanted to containthe spread, they should have clearly informed Africans what their goal was. Themeasurements were miscommunicated. REFERENCES1. BBC News.
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