The Underreported Side Of The Ebola Crisis

Rose Ann DeMoro | The Blog | September 6, 2014

Amid the media accounts of the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded some significant context is largely missing from the major media reporting.  Atop this list are links of the outbreak to the climate crisis and global inequality, mal-distribution of wealth, and austerity-driven cuts in public services that have greatly contributed to the rapid spread of Ebola.  Equally underreported is the inadequate disaster planning for U.S. health services and how poorly prepared U.S. hospitals are for epidemics like Ebola, other epidemics, and even natural disasters as a result of misplaced priorities in a profit-driven health care system and short sighted public health budget cuts.

Start with severely skewed, neo-liberal programs in a global economy dominated by international banks and the governments aligned with them that have starved health programs and other public services while shifting resources to transnational corporations and other wealthy interests.  Thus we have health systems in the global south teetering on the edge of collapse, unable to effectively respond to disease outbreaks, much less daily health crises, and international relief agencies begging for funds.  Even the World Health Organization, the United Nations agency who has as a prime purpose to "direct international health efforts, tackle epidemics and help in emergencies, (has been) badly weakened by budget cuts in recent years," the New York Times reported September 3.

The WHO, the Times noted has been hobbled in its ability to respond, and its "outbreak and emergency response units have been slashed" with a drain in the staff needed to help blunt Ebola and similar epidemics.  One way to reverse this trend would be further enactment of the Robin Hood tax to levy a transaction fee on the trading of stocks, bonds, derivatives and other financial instruments from the very banks and institutions that have so cratered the global economy. The proposed U.S. version is HR 1579...