How’s this for a juxtaposition on how nations respond to a global health catastrophe. Check out these two headlines from yesterday’s news:
Reading these stories, which ran in, respectively, the BBC and Reuters, one learns that the Cuban government, which runs a small financially hobbled island nation of 11 million people, with a national budget of $50 billion, Gross Domestic Product of 121 billion and per capita GDP of just over $10,000, is dispatching 165 medical personnel to Africa to regions where there are ebola outbreaks, while the US, the world’s wealthiest nation, with a population of close to 320 million, a national budget of $3.77 trillion, GDP of $17 trillion, and per capita GDP of over $53,000, is sending troops — 3000 of them– to “fight” the ebola epidemic.
Okay, I understand that these troops are supposedly going to be “overseeing” construction of treatment centers, but let’s get serious. With an epidemic raging through Africa, where some of the poorest nations in the world are located, what is needed right now are not new structures. Tent facilities would be fine for treating people in this kind of a crisis. What is needed is medical personnel. The important line in the Reuters article about the US “aid” plan, though is that the US troops will
…”establish a military control center for coordination, U.S. officials told reporters.
“The goal here is to search American expertise, including our military, logistics and command and control expertise, to try and control this outbreak at its source in west Africa,” Lisa Monaco, Obama’s White House counter-terrorism adviser, told MSNBC television on Tuesday ahead of the announcement.
Cuba apparently does not feel that it needs to establish a military control center to dispatch its doctors and nurses, nor does it feel that “military, logistics and command and control expertise” are what are needed.
Anyone who thinks this dispatching of US military personnel to Africa is about combating a plague is living in a fantasy world. This is about projecting US military power further into Africa, which has already been a goal of the Obama administration, anxious to prevent China from gaining control over African mineral resources, and to control them for US exploitation.
Expert says virus will infect entire population of African countries
Image Credits: European Commission / Flickr
A top German virologist has caused shockwaves by asserting that it’s too late to halt the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia and that five million people will die, noting that efforts should now be focused on stopping the transmission of the virus to other countries.
Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg told Germany’s Deutsche Welle that hope is all but lost for the inhabitants of Sierra Leone and Liberia and that the virus will only “burn itself out” when it has infected the entire population and killed five million people.
“The right time to get this epidemic under control in these countries has been missed,” said Schmidt-Chanasit. “That time was May and June. “Now it is too late.”
The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed over 2200 people, with Liberia and Sierra Leone accounting for over 1700 of those fatalities.
While calling for “massive help” from the international community to prevent Ebola appearing in other countries like Nigeria and Senegal, Schmidt-Chanasit warns that getting a grip on the epidemic in Liberia and Sierra Leone is a departure from reality.
German aid organization Welthungerhilfe blasted Schmidt-Chanasit for his comments, with Sierra Leone based coordinator Jochen Moninger labeling his statements, “dangerous and moreover, not correct.” However, Moninger acknowledged that Schmidt-Chanasit’s assessment may be accurate in the case of Liberia.
The World Health Organization refused to comment on Schmidt-Chanasit’s remarks.
Although Ebola continues to rage in five African countries, media coverage of the epidemic has waned, despite evidence that the virus has mutated.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Tom Frieden testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, before the House subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations hearing on “Combating the Ebola Threat.” (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
Just back from a week in the Ebola hot zone, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Tom Frieden had a dire assessment of the situation on the ground there.
“The bottom line is that despite tremendous efforts from the U.S. government, CDC, from within countries, the number of cases continues to increase and is now increasing rapidly,” Freiden told a press conference at the CDC today.
The virus is moving faster than anyone anticipated and that’s why we need to move now, he said.
During his trip, Freiden visited the three countries hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. In Liberia, Frieden donned the familiar yellow suits, face masks and goggles healthcare workers in Africa wear and visited a ward where Ebola patients are being treated.
“There is a window of opportunity to tamp this down”, Frieden said, “but that window is closing…we need action now to scale up the response.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) today said that the “magnitude of the Ebola outbreak has been vastly underestimated.” According to the latest WHO figures, 3,069 people have come down with Ebola. Of them, 1,552 have died— a fatality rate greater than 50 percent. Dr. Frieden told Fox News that unless urgent action is taken to contain the epidemic, it may be impossible to stop. There are not enough hospitals, wards, clinics, doctors or nurses to take care of the numbers of people who are coming down with Ebola, he said.
The world, Frieden said, needs to come together to open more wards and clinics and train health care workers or Ebola could continue to spread to other countries. The West African nation of Senegal yesterday declared a first-priority health emergency after a 21-year-old student who traveled to Senegal from Guinea showed symptoms of Ebola. His brother had died from the disease days earlier. The Democratic Republic of Congo is investigating 24 cases of Ebola hemmorhagic fever, though those cases are believed to be caused by a different strain than the virus that is devastating West Africa.
Frieden says every nation of the world should be worried.
“It’s not just in the interest of these countries to get it under control. For every day that this continues to spread in West Africa, the likelihood of someone getting infected and becoming sick elsewhere increases,” he told reporters.
The ebola pandemic began in late February in the former French colony of Guinea while UN agencies were conducting nationwide vaccine campaigns for three other diseases in rural districts. The simultaneous eruptions of this filovirus virus in widely separated zones strongly suggests that the virulent Zaire ebola strain (ZEBOV) was deliberately introduced to test an antidote in secret trials on unsuspecting humans.
The cross-border escape of ebola into neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia indicates something went terribly wrong during the illegal clinical trials by a major pharmaceutical company. Through the lens darkly, the release of ebola may well have been an act biowarfare in the post-colonial struggle to control mineral-rich West Africa
Earlier this year, rural residents eagerly stood in line to receive vaccinations from foreign-funded medical programs. Since the cover-up of the initial outbreak, however, panicked West Africans rural folk are terrified of any treatment from international aid programs for fear of a rumored genocide campaign. The mass hysteria is also fueled in a region traditionally targeted by Western pedophiles by the fact that filovirus survives longer in semen than in other body fluids, a point that resulted in murderous attacks on young men believed to be homosexuals. Ebola detonated fear and loathing, and perhaps that is exactly the intended objective of a destabilization strategy.
This ongoing series of investigative journalism reports on the ebola crisis exposes how West Africans are largely justified in their distrust of the Western aid agencies that unleashed, whether by mistake or deliberate intent, the most virulent virus known to man.