'Moral Bankruptcy of Capitalism': UK’s Top Public Doctor Shames Western Society Over Ebola

Staff Writer | RT News | August 3, 2014

Western countries should tackle drugs firms’ “scandalous” reluctance to invest in research into the virus which has already killed over 700 people in West Africa, the UK’s top public doctor said, adding, “They’d find a cure if Ebola came to London.” The pharmaceutical industry are reluctant to invest in research to produce treatments and vaccines “because the numbers involved are, in their terms, so small and don't justify the investment,” said Professor John Ashton, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, an independent body for specialists in public health in the United Kingdom.

“This is the moral bankruptcy of capitalism acting in the absence of an ethical and social framework,” he wrote in The Independent on Sunday. “Ebola has finally made it on to the front pages,” he said, adding that it may be because “we are in the ‘silly season,’” or because “there is now the threat of cases other than of poverty-stricken Africans.” Ashton compared the international response to Ebola to the initial one toward AIDS “which emerged, probably from West Africa, at the same time [with Ebola].” He added that the lack of experience of dealing with the deadly virus means that “the pattern of spread is initially unclear.”

“In both cases it seems that the involvement of powerless minority groups has contributed to a tardiness of response and a failure to mobilize an adequately resourced international medical response.” Ashton said: “It took years for proper research funding to be put in place” for the researchers to start studying AIDS. “It was only when ‘innocent’ groups were involved (women and children, hemophiliac patients and straight men) that the media, the politicians and the scientific community and funding bodies took notice.”...