“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Sunday, 12 October 2014

A plague on both of these plagues.

Which is more frightening, ISIS or Ebola? Both are wreaking havoc in the areas that are subject to their  contagion and thousands of innocent lives are at threat from one or the other. ISIS seem strangely medieval in their beliefs and practises but probably no more so than the alarmingly pre-enlightenment response to ebola in some quarters;  i.e. pull up the drawbridge. Very many health professionals are risking their lives to contain ebola and care for the infected. We can but acknowledge their courage and commitment but in West Africa they struggle to work in a creakingly inadequate  health system.
There was probably little that "The West" could have done to prevent the outbreak of ebola but the outbreak of  heavily armed jihadist militias could certainly have been at least hampered by simply not meddling in far away countries of which we know little. Probably the best bet at this late stage would be to leave the Middle East to sort itself out militarily while offering as much humanitarian aid as possible. The money saved on bombing missions would be better spent improving African health care systems. It's about time that we learnt that "globalisation" is not just about the free movement of capital but the free movement of everything. In a global economy an injury to one truly is an injury to all.

1 comment:

Dr Llareggub said...

ISIS and Ebola - too much to cover in one response. Finance for medical help to corrupt African dictatorships and aid agencies faces a problem of distribution. I have been working on health care issues in Africa for some time. Did some work on therapy for HIV positive pregnant women in West Africa and just been involved in a major study of bioprospecting among indigenous people in Africa and other places. It has a relevance to Ebola. An objective is to locate a genetic basis of various health deficits, see how disease can be combatted, prevented. Big pharma companies are collecting genetic material from indigenous people which is then sold and sold again making ever increasing profits. Better investment than in gold and diamonds. Millions were made out of the genetic material collected from the people of Tristan da Cuhna, who got sod all for their donation. Contrary to certain schoolboy romantic accounts of Tristan da Cuhna - you know, happy, anarchic healthy people - there is a high incidence of asthma there with a genetic origin. DNA donated by the islanders turned into astronomic profits made by pharmaceutical companies researching the prevention and cure for asthma. Shame the anarchist experts on the Islanders won't discuss this as it conflicts with the healthy islander narrative. Usual left censorship.

Bioprospecting is a feature of research into health deficits in the developing world. But some return ought to go to the indigenous peoples themselves. I think the UN will accept proposals for benefit sharing among indigenous people who donate their genetic material for research. A report will soon be published. A bold suggestion of mine is to provide opportunities for scientific education of some members of the indigenous communities. I fear it will be resisted. Because the real political challenge remains. Within the UN and WHO are those multiculty PC politicos who (like the romantic anarchists) place politics and culture higher than scientific facts. Scientific research in genomic history can conflict with internal political structures based on cultural myths, and progress in the fight against disease will be blocked by those who deny the objectivity of scientific medicine seeing it as a weapon of western imperialism. To modify a slogan used by a former leader of Class War: 'the left are our misfortune' .

So I agree with your post that more needs to be done for healthcare in Africa - although I would avoid any acceptance of Western guilt because the solution lies in that complex interplay between science and politics. And that is how to approach th problem o Ebola. But it will not be coherently discussed in the Guardian and BBC who have switched from blaming western interference to accusing the west for not interfering in these overseas crises.

Hopefully, someone here will comment on Isis. Martin Wright has done a good presentation on You Tube, which might contribute to a separation of the left from conservative Islam. One can but hope.