Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ebola: The Multiplier Disease: Taking Out Healthcare Systems

Ebola is a disease of poverty, but it is different from other diseases of poverty such as cholera and lassa fever for one important reason: Ebola takes out healthcare systems.  Millions of deaths occur every year from various diseases of poverty, but these do not make the news the way EVD does.  This is because a single cholera patient does not have the potential to shut down an entire clinic.  5000 people die per year of Lassa fever in the same area that is now affected by Ebola.  However, those 5000 Lassa deaths do not shut down an entire nations' schools and hospitals; 5000 Ebola deaths did.  
Ebola deaths have a multiplier effect.  Every Ebola death indirectly leads to dozens of deaths from unrelated conditions that go untreated due to hospital closures.  As vaccination programs are suspended, each Ebola death leads to dozens of deaths from vaccine-preventable illnesses.  As markets, schools, and developmental programs are closed, each Ebola death leads to lost opportunities, general weakening of systems,an increase in the potential for political instability, and food shortages.

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