How can Ebola be contained when globalization is everywhere?

Even more than SARS in 2002, Ebola signifies one of the crucial challenges of the 21st century: pandemics. Moving people, goods and services and flows is a core pillar of globalization. But it is this all-encompassing moving around and across borders that makes it so difficult to fight a global health problem.

Among issues of national pride, superstition and skepticism in affected African nations, the Ebola cause has been fighting to gain air time, recognition and funding against a series of equally newsworthy global conflicts. But the prospects don’t look good. Experts warn that unless security measures are ramped up, the global health issue will not be contained.

  1. Shen Dingli 4 days ago

    The answer is to significantly slow, if not stop, the flow of people, at least for a while. This calls for strong governance. Let us take the case of SARS in China in 2003 for example. When SARS spread in China in the spring, the Chinese government initially failed to inform the public properly, causing great fear. Then it quickly reversed its approach by rendering transparency and taking strong measures to combat the SARS.

    It is crucial to slow the flow of people, so as to contain this pandemic. Subsequently university students either went home or stayed on campus. If staying at university, they were not allowed to move around much. Classes were small. For anyone who was having fever, s/he had to be quarantined within an isolated dorm, with food supplied in basket through window. For extreme cases, villagers in the rural area organized themselves to set road barriers not to allow anyone in and out of their town. Meantime, Chinese armed forces instantly set up field hospital with the best containment and medical technology to cure those SARS patients. Chinese medical scientists managed to analyze the disease and produced the right medicine, effectively racing with the time.

    For Ebola, good governance is crucial: slowing, if not stopping, the globalization, or at least regionalization, especially in those areas where Ebola has stricken hard. International medical support, under the flag of WHO, is absolutely necessary. China has sent its medical teams to the Ebola rampant Africa, but more has to follow, including analyzing the virus as to discover the right solution.

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  1. klaus segbers 9 hours ago

    I agree with Ding Li. To effectively cope with such a challenge spreading quickly across borders, one needs strong agencies – be it governments, or international organizations. Unfortunately, so far we don’t see that in Western Africa. The states we are talking about are so weak that we may call them failing. The WHO is dramatically underfunded. And while there are cameras providing visual impressions about the disaster, the Islamic State Challenge and the messy situation in Ukraine/ Russia apparently dominate the global attention.
    But especially Europe has to watch out. we do register significant flows of refugees from Africa moving North. his may create unpleasant surprises.

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  2. AW 2 hours ago

    Slowing down the flows as indeed probably the most important tool in fighting Ebola. We in Europe can only pray, that the FRONTEX will be efficient enough in containing the migrants flows from those regions.
    Another think Mr. Segbers has mentioned is the funding of WHO. Normally I am libertarian, but this is clearly the case, when the free market cannot help to respond to a problem. As long as big pharmaceutic companies have no interest in developing treatment for tropical diseases, fighting ebola will be problematic. It was spectacular, how quickly proper vaccine was found after the first “white” people have died.
    Another big issues is public education. Ebola is horrible not because it is an especially awful disease. It is spreading in a region, where sanitary conditions are especially bad, which is the key to the scope of this pandemic.

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