Once again, Africa is in the news because of death, massacres, and horror: wars, mass displacements, famine, migration, shipwrecks, and illness. And, once again, the cause of such injustice and pain – the profit of multinational corporations – is kept hidden. These companies pull a smokescreen over their responsibility, and even proclaim themselves to be the solution to the problem. With the collaboration of international institutions, in this case the WHO, they attempt to legitimise the world’s injustices. All the while, the mass media controls public opinion, directing it towards partial or secondary truths in order to hide the principal causes – poverty and hunger. In this way, they ensure the most absolute impunity for those who trade in the pain and death of the poor.
If we compare the deaths caused by the Ebola virus with those of other devastating diseases in this plundered continent – such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, tuberculosis or malaria, we realise straight away that we are being deceived. Upon comparing the death rates from these illnesses in impoverished nations and wealthy nations, we see what the true cause of death in Africa is.
The Ebola virus is not airborne. One has to be in contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person in order to be at risk of contracting the disease. All experts know that such conditions make it possible to control an epidemic rapidly if the will exists to do so. Why, then, does the media talk about a pandemic? The miscalculation of the Swine Flu virus announcement led to a scandal that served to profit pharmaceutical companies, which in Spain alone sold 37,000,000 vaccines. And here lies the answer to the question above. Disease is big business.
New medicine is not the solution to Ebola. The problem, we repeat, is the poverty of effected populations: overcrowding, lack of drinking water and ventilation, and lack of quick diagnoses due to lack of resources. In short, it is an illness that only really devastates impoverished communities. But should we see this as a coincidence?
There are not only economic interests at play, but socio-political ones. Epidemics in impoverished nations allow wealthier nations to exert more control of their border, and see violence and xenophobia towards immigrants increase. The fact that, in many cases, they have migrated to escape the poverty caused by a global economy based on robbery is brushed under the carpet. In Africa itself, meanwhile, some countries have even mobilised their armies to repress their populations – on top of closing their borders. And mistrust is even being sown between family members and neighbours, breaking ties of solidarity that previously existed.
The Parliament of Sierra Leone has made it a crime, to be punished with two years in jail, to accommodate people infected with Ebola – in an attempt to stop the spread of the deadly virus. For supposedly the same purpose, the Liberian Government has ordered its soldiers to “shoot to kill” at anyone who tries to cross its border. The consequences of all of these actions risk provoking a true humanitarian catastrophe, much more serious than the Ebola virus itself.
Meanwhile, the true causes of the Hunger of the majority of African citizens remain hidden.
Translated by Oso Sabio from a text found in Spanish at http://solidaridad.net/noticia/8571/autogestion-106