Ebola : The politic consequences
The biggest concern of the Ebola outbreak is political, not medical
One U.S. congressman went as far as making the ridiculous claim that fear of Ebola should factor into the ongoing debate over U.S. immigration policy.
The combination of modern health systems and the limited communicability of the virus make it unlikely to spread in developed countries. The outbreak has exposed a lack of trust that many Liberians have in their government. The most serious effects of the outbreak, however, are almost certainly yet to come. Earlier this week Liberia’s minister of finance downgraded national growth projections, warning from the outbreak and pleading with investors to stay and help the country fight the disease.
Aid workers and skilled employees are fleeing in great numbers, and numerous airlines have canceled regular flights. Decreased spending, combined with a sustained period of damage to cross-border trade and food markets, will likely dampen recovery efforts in the immediate future. These profound implications complicate the global effort, totaling billions of dollars, to preserve peace in the region. Given the political and social damage from civil war, the secondary effects of the outbreak could ultimately overshadow the illness itself. While Ebola is terrifying, it has thus far killed a limited number of people, and a concerted effort may yet bring the situation under control. But heightened mistrust and panic could severely strain the country’s ongoing reconciliation and development.
After failing to prevent conflict in Liberia and Sierra Leone during the 1990s, the international community has invested heavily in the regional peace process for over a decade. In response, the world must look beyond its paranoid fears and commit to giving whatever assistance is necessary to help the region emerge healthy and on a safe path from yet another dark chapter of its history.