Arriving in Changi airport, Singapore today, my little son was checked for Ebola symptoms (as he was fast asleep in my arms when we walked through customs. The entire world now fears for this silent killer to spread and gain foothold in new regions.
Syria. ISIS. Malaysian airline flights MH370 and MH17. The tsunami back in 2004. AIDS. And now, ebola. In general, we don´t really care to much for all the endless pain and suffering around the world (and our co-responsibility to help), unless it might pose a threat for ourselves.
We could have had the cure for ebola this year. Or last year. Any year since it was discovered (in 1976!!), really… Its not like this is the first outbreak since the 70´s.
But it is the biggest one, yet more important the first to kill westerns. Prevously, it has been limited to killing people in remote areas of countries where people are invisible to the mass media. Being absolutely non-politicaly correct, in some ways I am “glad” that ebola has now killed western people. It is absolutely horrific for those involved, both patients and their beloved ones, and make no mistake – I feel for them. But just as we have seen with the ISIS killings of western journalists, this is actually what it takes for the world (that´s us by the way!) to stop, think, act and push change moving forward.
Because as long as the ebola outbreak map looked like the below map, no big pharmaceutical companies will prioritize funding for finding the cure. And very few would push them to do it. The western patients who have died or are currently hospitalized, has done more for the African people than any of us nor our governments.
Ebola was no longer a problem for “them” but also for “us”. You and I could be the next in line. And that´s when we start caring. I only sincerely hope that it´s not to late – that we are facing an epidemic out of control – beyond borders. US public health director Thomas Frieden states that: “This is controllable and this was preventable”. Not sure about the first, but definitely agreeing on the second part of his statement…
It should make us embarrassed that the killing of the dog of an Ebola victim gets more attention (and causes demonstrations…!) than the deaths of more than 4.000 people in African countries, many of them small children… Shame on us.
So its time to ask: When will we learn? Will we ever?
We are part of a very globalized world, and containing diseases like this become more challenging for each year. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Then support those racing against time to find the cure. And don´t let this happen again.
Norwegian poet Arnulf Øverland said it so well: “You oughtn´t abide, sitting calm in your home, saying; Dismal it is, poor they are, and alone. You cannot permit it! You dare not, at all. Accepting that outrage on all else might fall! I cry with the final gasps of my breath: You dare not repose, nor stand and forget.”
Greetings from me in Singapore
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