Causes of the Ebola Epidemic

The international outbreak of the Ebola virus has drawn a lot of media attention in the U.S. Conservatives linked Ebola with ISIL and immigration in order to spread fear that America was under external threat, just in time for the election. But what is at the root of the Ebola epidemic? Guess what? Poverty and economic exploitation.

Dr. Allyson Pollock, professor of public health research and policy at Queen Mary University of London, discussed the spread of Ebola with Tariq Ali. Pollock criticized western governments’ response to Ebola, which has focused on providing vaccinations.

Actually, vaccines are not what these countries need. It’s proper redistribution and public-health measures. And we learn nothing from history—that’s what’s so shocking. All the great reforms, all the great collapse of infectious disease epidemics, was actually not down to drugs and vaccines. It was down to redistributive measures which included sanitation, nutrition, good housing. And, actually, above all, a real democratization.

Why is there such an imbalance? Because banks have demanded privatization and cuts to social spending in poor countries, and because drug companies have demanded an emphasis on vaccination rather than strengthening of local public-health systems. “These are very, very poor countries, where the infrastructure has increasingly been ripped out, especially in terms of health systems,” Pollock said. In addition to institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the professor blamed the Gates Foundation, which she said is “doing untold harm” by distorting health policy in the countries facing the most danger from Ebola.

See video of the full interview here.