One could argue that many of the victims of Ebola in Africa are as much victims of poverty, due to the poor nature of health care in Africa. This is threatening to wipe out an entire generation of young doctors and nurses in West Africa. Hence why Western assistance vital, both to contain the virus and stop a global pandemic, but also to prevent any more serious long term damage to already impoverished states.
That said the health authorities in Nigeria and Senegal both deserve quite a bit of credit for their quick thinking and clever detective work, which help halt the outbreak in both countries. In both these nations initial cases were quickly investigated and a ring fence thrown around anyone potentially exposed. Both are on the verge of being declared disease free.
Of course one has to contrasts this with the events in Texas. If you believe the horror stories about US health care they will tell you about paramedics who are more skilled in finding credit cards and checking health insurance than actually treating patients. The tales coming out of the US reveal something of a farce. We hear stories about poorly trained and equipped health care workers, of a person running a fever and prior exposure to Ebola being allowed to board a commercial flight.
In many respects you do have to wonder how well the US health care system would cope with a serious disease outbreak. For as our libertarian tea party types would likely discover, disease does not respect economic boundaries. Indeed we have the irony of ex-US presidential candidate Rich Perry, blaming Obama and the federal government for being too slow. I mean surely Obama should have spent the last few years doing something about Americas chronic health care problems…oh wait he did only it was Republicans like Perry who tried to stop him!
As events in Africa have shown, once a virus takes root, its very difficult to stop. Perhaps they might want to think about then when next denouncing Obamacare.
Ebolas only briefly appeared in any UK patients, generally those flown home for treatment. But it is perhaps topical to bring it up given the release last week of a report on the future funding of the NHS. These suggest that the chronic underfunding of the NHS in recent years now needs at least an extra £8 billion a year by 2020 to set right.
Clearly this means that something is going to have to give. Either cuts in other areas of the sort one doubt even the Tories would be happy with, or taxes going up. But I suppose it boils down to the question of what sort of health care system do you want. While Ebola might be a fairly minor risk to the UK at the moment, there are plenty of other things that are a more serious long term risk (pandemic flu, heart disease, cancer, etc.) and having a robust health care system is therefore essential.