Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ebola and Us

(I'm taking a minute from the Black Urban Growers Conference #BUGS2014 #Detroit for this post.  Then it's back to edible landscapes and food sovereignty!)

Ebola Virus
I've been thinking about this since August, but now that my home town, Akron, OH, has hit the spotlight with the identification of U. S. Ebola patient #3, I think it's time.

Americans are spoiled.  We inflict war and carnage, exploit resources and generally mindlessly pursue our self-interest without recognizing that we are not Fortress America, reaching out and pillaging, and then dashing back, arms full of other people's resources, to our titanium castle on a big island in the middle of a big ocean.

We were never that, and we aren't that now.  Globalization brought Christopher Columbus and deadly diseases to the naive immunes systems of the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean and North America.  The results were 80-95% of populations dying.  Disease and pestilence have been introduced to every continent from some other place because of "journeys of discovery" to find the raw materials of the emerging and consolidating capitalist economies. 

There was a point in this country when people realized that it was unsustainable to continue to pollute our water supplies with our trash and feces.  That gave rise, in part, to the public health movement in the early 20th century (they had other, less honorable intentions of course).  Public health brought sanitation, vaccines, access to clinics and infectious disease control.  In the last 20 years this commitment to public health, that eventually gave us the CDC, the surgeon general and state, county and local public health offices, has been deprived of funding and government support.  The CDC has had it's budget cut by billions over the last 20 years.  

In addition, thanks to the Reagan era health care reform, privatization has resulted in for-profit hospitals with little focus on their public health responsibilities.  And then there are states like Texas.

States like Texas, Louisiana, and West Virginia have inefficient, poorly funded or practically non-existent public health infrastructures.  They pander to extractive industries -- oil, coal, fracked gas -- that need environmental
Houston.  Thanks Juan Parras of TEJAS
and public health regulations to be held at bay so they can make their enormous profits.

So, don't show up in a Texas for-profit hospital and expect them to know where Liberia is or that Ebola is epidemic there.  And if you don't have insurance (because there is no Medicaid expansion Texas) you will be lucky to be handed a bottle of antibiotics but you will definitely be sent away.  But the nurses will try to do their best, cobbling together the protective gear inappropriately so that they will be guaranteed to be the next Ebola victims.

Disease spreads, Ebola will be here.  If you are really worried about your personal health insist your local and state governments reinvigorate the systems that guarantee our public health.

1 comment:

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