Miruna Codeanu

Really now, why is this the biggest Ebola outbreak?

In espresso on August 22, 2014 at 9:05 am
Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

As some of you may already know, Africa is one of my subjects of interest. The Ebola outbreak happening now in Africa makes no exception. Until this extremely violent Ebola outbreak I was saying that the African countries will be the next developing markets, the ones to save the world from another economic crisis. I still believe that, but if the African continent is on its way to getting better, how come it is facing one of its deadliest Ebola epidemics in almost 40 years, although Africa has been through some serious stuff, civil wars, genocide, famine, why now?

I’ve read a dozen articles, none,however, offering the most reasonable explanation. Africa has no means to contain the disease. True and I agree, but there were also some other outbreaks when the disease could be stopped from spreading. The health system in these countries is poor. I do agree again, but it was so by now and yet this is the biggest outbreak. All explanations could not answer my question: Why now the biggest outbreak? Which leads me to another questions: if we relate poverty to the Ebola outbreak, how come it doesn’t happen in the poorest countries in Africa. No, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea are not the poorest countries in Africa. 

evd-outbreak

Where is this Ebola outbreak taking place? Western African countries are poor, but not the poorest. The Central African Republic, Malawi and Democratic Republic of Congo (where the virus was originally discovered-Zaire) are poorer than these countries. South Sudan, the newest state in Africa, may be facing famine. How come this outbreak is happening in these countries and at this moment, in 2014. True, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have been scarred by recent long civil wars. 

My God, finding relevant information on an African country is similar to running an investigation. The newest report on Liberia from the UN seem to be as old as 2007. Although I would have liked to show you some nice graphs from the World Bank depicting the urbanization in West Africa, I’m just going to tell you:In West Africa, the major trend is urbanization. In 2007, the UN warned against yellow fever in urban areas. The population is growing and, like in most developing countries, people are moving in urban, crowded areas. 

Back when I was child Zeus was a very popular strategy game. The objective was to build a happy city that could resist merciless gods, attacks and epidemics. If you wanted a bigger city and you were growing crops in order to advance fast but you were forgetting about the wells and the hospitals, your people would get sick. It might seem a bit cynical to compare countries fighting Ebola with a strategy game from my childhood, only that the game was based on a true story: it is important to keep your people happy and healthy, not only be prosperous. The same for running a department or a business. Sick and unhappy people will end by costing you more. Ebola is quite a costly consequence, throwing countries affected by it back in social instability. 

Remember these things: there are some poorer and more unstable regions of Africa than western Africa. However, when a region is isolated, so is the disease. When a country becomes more urbanized and its population more mobile, so does the virus. Ebola is transmitted by bodily fluids: blood, semen, sweat, urine, saliva, feaces, vomit, etc. Sometimes, bodily fluids might be running on the streets which makes any person passing by a possible carrier. Now imagine a region with a high population density in a poor country. Most of the times the sewerage system is extremely bad. Ebola is a self sustaining disease as long as it can travel. Ebola causes severe dehydration which means people will vomit and have severe diarrhea, which means infested people will spread the virus, into the sewerage and if the sewerage system is bad, drinking water might be infested. It’s not poverty which makes this outbreak so dangerous, it’s the baby steps Africa was making towards development, ça veut dire urbanization. The trend has been present throughout the whole Africa, which makes this Ebola outbreak particularly dangerous.

In terms of market development, I believe this to be the last severe and deadly outbreak before Africa will make more baby steps towards its development. The more steps towards development and social security Africa makes, the more Africa becomes a market, a target for companies, including pharmaceuticals. 

PS: Here’s an absolutely brilliant point of view from Nigeria.

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  1. […] opinions and an attachment towards the global order. I previously wrote about this Ebola outbreak here. However, I couldn’t stop during this whole thing I couldn’t stop thinking, is there […]

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