Ignorance Spreads Illness

So typically I like to keep my work-blog life decidedly separate, but there's one topic that I find absolutely fascinating and want to talk about. It's scary. It's serious. And it's not talked about enough. It's Ebola. I am in no way an expert on Ebola, so there's my disclaimer, but I do know enough to write intelligently about it. And I brought a ton of linked sources into this post to back me up.

What I find most fascinating about Ebola is the ignorance that surrounds it. The ignorance causes it to spread, but it also hinders fundraising for it. By now you probably know that this is the worst Ebola outbreak ever, so what is making it so bad? See previous sentence for the answer (ignorance). And I'm not using the word lightly, and I'm not pointing fingers. It's a collective and problematic lack of effort, lack of awareness and lack of intelligence.

At the root of the problem is that the countries where Ebola is spreading, people believe it is caused by witchcraft, or that doctors are injecting people will Ebola. Try helping to stop the spread of a disease when people don't actually believe that the disease is actually a disease, or that going to the hospital will kill you. It makes treatment impossible. People are dying on the streets and not knowing why. Or blaming black magic.

Raising awareness is a key to stopping the spread of the disease. But so is treating the people that already have it. And protecting those that don't. Which leads to the problem that people stop the spread by blockading cities from each other. So then the blockade, which could potentially stop the spread of the disease, cuts off the entire economy of the segmented area. Which is deadly in the long run for the already fragile economies of these affected areas.

So there's the internal problems happening within the Ebola-affected countries. But there are bigger problems too. WHO admits we acted too slowly (because of budget cuts), which doesn't bode well for future similar outbreaks. We didn't take it seriously enough.

And the last bit of ignorance falls on the American perception of the disease. 40 percent of those polled say they believe we will have a major Ebola outbreak in the United States. Let's talk about this. We know it's a real disease. We have a solid health care system. We can easily contain it. Yet, when we think about ourselves and fear it here, that doesn't help those that are really affected by it.

And this last statement is purely what I think, so there won't be any links backing me up on this, but I believe we aren't talking about it enough. We're ignoring a pretty big deal. And that's a form of ignorance.