“This year, it’s Ebola. A few years ago it was extensively drug resistant tuberculosis or XDR-TB. For those that can remember the early 1980s, then it was HIV. Exotic infections for Americans, often from far away places, often Africa, strike fear into their hearts, but only once the pathogens have cleared customs. The death toll on the other side of oceans has little meaning for us.
We need to remember that all these epidemics didn’t need to happen. Early action could have prevented their spread, investing in health systems could have stymied their emergence in the first place. We like to call them diseases of the poor, but this is a strange construction. Continue reading