Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

4 August 2014

West Africa: Ebola - the Disease Is Not the Real Problem

analysis

Yes, we should be scared of Ebola. It's a nasty way to die. But it's not that contagious, and we can't really blame the disease for the fact that it is spreading like wildfire in West Africa.

Instead, as usual, there's a more obvious scapegoat: corrupt, incompetent governments and their repeated failure to protect their citizens. By SIMON ALLISON.

"This outbreak is moving faster than our efforts to control it." That was the ominous verdict delivered last week by Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organisation. She was speaking, of course, about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which has so far infected more than 1,300 people and killed at least 729 (that we know of, at least - the real numbers are likely to be even higher).

Chan, speaking at an emergency regional summit in Conakry, warned that if the situation continues to deteriorate, "the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives but also severe socioeconomic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries".

Already, the epidemic has spread from Guinea to Liberia and Sierra Leone. One case was reported in Lagos, Nigeria, with dozens now in quarantine there. Border authorities are on high ...

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