Start A Petition

NYT Op Ed: How to Defeat Ebola

Health & Wellness  (tags: workld, Ebola, outbreak, virus, West Africa, US, health care delivery, source )

- 1727 days ago -
An alarming new symptom of Ebola in America: It seems to make brains mushy and hearts hard. So let's calm down and get to work protecting America from Ebola by stopping this disaster at its source.


We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.


Evelyn B (63)
Thursday October 23, 2014, 9:14 am
The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Columnist
How to Defeat Ebola
OCT. 22, 2014
[Nicholas Kristof]

An alarming new symptom of Ebola in America: It seems to make brains mushy and hearts hard.

In New Jersey, two students from Rwanda, which has had no Ebola cases and is 2,800 miles from the affected countries in West Africa, are being kept home. Navarro College in Texas rejected applicants from Nigeria, initially stating that it would not accept students from countries with Ebola cases — a bit problematic because that would mean no longer accepting Americans.

The former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party, Todd Kincannon, suggested (perhaps satirically) one way to control the disease: All people who tested positive for the Ebola virus could be “humanely put down.”

Many Republicans and some Democrats have been calling for a ban on flights from the Ebola-affected West African countries. A Reuters poll indicated that almost three-quarters of Americans favored such a ban on flights.

It’s a superficially attractive idea, but also a reflection of our mixed-up notions of how to protect ourselves. The truth is that Ebola is both less serious and far more serious than we think.

It’s less serious here because, in the end, the United States and other countries with advanced health systems can suppress Ebola outbreaks. Granted, the Dallas hospital bungled its response. Still, if Nigeria and Senegal can manage Ebola successfully, so can the United States. We won’t have an epidemic here.

Yet Ebola is more serious because there is a significant risk that it will become endemic in West Africa and spin off to other countries in the region or to India, Bangladesh or China. Ebola in India would be a catastrophe.

Oxfam rightly warns that more resources are needed to prevent Ebola from becoming the “definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation.” And if the virus lingers or spreads among poor countries, it will periodically travel to America. In a globalized world, Ebola anywhere is a threat to people everywhere.

There are also security risks. Aum Shinrikyo, a Japanese terrorist group, tried to collect Ebola samples in Congo in 1992 for bioterror weapons but failed. Today, it would be easy to collect the virus, and a few suicide operatives could deliberately contract Ebola and then travel to the United States to spread the virus. (However, if the aim is mass murder, it would be simpler and probably more effective just to set off bombs.)

In any case, the point is that global health is not just a warm and fuzzy kind of aid. It’s also self-interest. It’s also national security. The best way to protect ourselves is to eradicate Ebola at its source.

A flight ban would hamper that effort by making it more difficult to get health workers and supplies to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Dr. Peter Piot, who helped identify Ebola in 1976, tells me that flight bans would be counterproductive because they would “make aid really more difficult and expensive.”

Likewise, Dr. Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health, tells me bluntly: “A ban would be worse than ineffective, and would certainly hamper the efforts of groups like ours — and worsen the epidemic.”

Even airport screenings may be a feel-good distraction. An editorial in BMJ, a medical journal, noted that Canada used questionnaires and thermal scanners to screen hundreds of thousands of people for SARS, spent $15 million, and didn’t find a single case. The editorial suggests that airport screening “will have no meaningful effect” and that resources would be better used fighting Ebola in West Africa.

For all the fuss about our own borders, not nearly enough is being done where it counts most: in West Africa. Bravo to President Obama for pledging up to 4,000 troops to fight the disease there, but the United States and other countries must do far more — and quickly! — if Ebola is to be defeated.

The number of Ebola cases is still doubling every two to four weeks, and these countries can’t defeat the outbreak on their own. Liberia is said to have only 50 practicing doctors, according to Reuters, and there appear to be more Liberian doctors practicing in the United States than in Liberia. That brain drain means that Liberia, in effect, is providing medical foreign aid to the United States.

These are lovely countries with friendly people and some heroic health workers, but roads, electricity and other infrastructure are desperately weak. All of Liberia can produce less than one-third as much electricity as the Dallas Cowboys football stadium consumes at peak times.

That’s why the American military’s help in West Africa is crucial, and why it’s a disgrace that less than half of a Sept. 16 United Nations target for Ebola response funds has been raised.

Our values and interests coincide here. So let’s calm down and get to work protecting America from Ebola by stopping this disaster at its source.


Darren Woolsey (218)
Thursday October 23, 2014, 11:28 am
The American attitude to this needs to change.

P A (117)
Thursday October 23, 2014, 11:42 pm
Excellent article, thanks Evelyn and thanks Carrie B for forwarding - I agree with every word of the article.

There is also an excellent article on the website of Alliance for Natural Health pointing out that lack of Selenium, Vit D3 (and Vit K2 of course) and Vit A and Vit C etc can all make us prone to getting a virus such as this; they think there is evidence that those who have caught the virus have been deficient in such vits and minerals.

I agree that we simply MUST stop this outbreak at source or it will become endemic in poor populations and we will all have to live with it forever. I have been donating monthly several times what I used to, to Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders since May this year because of this - please, if you have the resources, look up their website in your country and donate to them - they are HEROIC!!


Angelika R (143)
Friday October 24, 2014, 3:34 pm
Agree with Pat and add my thanks for posting, Evelyn. Well written! It has already spread to more neighboring countries with a current toll of 10K infected and 5k casualties.
It is more than outrageous how the rethugs have been abusing this crisis to blame on Obama, even dubbing him "president Ebola". Likewise outrageous and a shame all the stigmatising going on!!I A Nigerian woman started a campaign stating " I am A NIGERIAN, NOT A VIRUS!"

But to a certain extend I can also see people's reserved attitude considering what AFRICOM is and has been doing in secret, there's little trust and some even suggested the virus was purposeful brought there.

Suzanne L (89)
Friday October 24, 2014, 5:47 pm
It is fear not ebola that has those effects on people. I was happy to see President Obama hugging Nina Pham today after she was released from the hospital. He is a leader in modelling how we should respond to those who have gone through such a horrible experience. On the other hand, I think the doctor in NYC who is now confirmed as having ebola, should have exercised greater restraint in his activities for a few days or so after he returned from treating ebola victims in Guinea.

Jim Phillips (3247)
Saturday October 25, 2014, 6:33 am
"An alarming new symptom of Ebola in America: It seems to make brains mushy and hearts hard."

Sounds so much like the GOP/TP, Faux News group. lol.

ty, Evelyn.

Evelyn B (63)
Saturday October 25, 2014, 6:41 am
I like your comparison, Jim!

Arielle S (313)
Saturday October 25, 2014, 7:26 am
Each and every DAY in the USA,
92 people are killed in car accidents
32 die from gun violence
1178 die from smoking
1150 die from medical errors

Deaths from ebola this year in the US? One

The fear is not valid....But Jim's comment is!

Angelika R (143)
Saturday October 25, 2014, 9:47 am
AGREE with all said above!!! All the media shows day in day out is coverage about the topic-no hints to what SHOULD be done.. all part of campaigning in favor of rethugs...

Angelika R (143)
Saturday October 25, 2014, 2:21 pm
What does the fox say? :-) As usual, Fox has the answer- have a listen! (bet you didn't know Ebola was related to Benghazi) Here's for your weekend giggle (sorry, didn't mean to distract from this serious subject but couldn't resist)
Gretchen's Take on Ebola

Angelika R (143)
Sunday October 26, 2014, 9:39 am
here's another one for your Sunday smiles, this time picking on "my favorite, (AIPAC) Woof Bitcher" and his Shituation room"- Poll: Majority of Americans Favor Quarantining Wolf Blitzer
good one!

Angelika R (143)
Monday October 27, 2014, 4:45 pm
oops, C2 not accepting SPAM reports? seems the spam even got into their flagging system^^
(There was a problem submitting your report. Please try again later.) - I did but several efforts failed
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story

Loading Noted By...Please Wait


butterfly credits on the news network

  • credits for vetting a newly submitted story
  • credits for vetting any other story
  • credits for leaving a comment
learn more

Most Active Today in Health & Wellness

Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.

New to Care2? Start Here.