The article below was written by The People’s Health Movement Global
On August 8th 2014 the World Health Organisation declared the Ebola outbreak a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ . The declaration came four months after the WHO reported a major Ebola outbreak in Guinea in West African. The epidemic broke in Guinea and spread to 3 of its neighbours – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The cumulative number of cases and deaths, officially reported to WHO from 23 March to 22 September, is 5,843 cases and 2,803 deaths. To date, 337 health care workers have been infected, and more than 181 of them have died*. Most public health experts agree that the official figures are a major under-estimation of the extent and spread of the disease .
The occurrence of current and past epidemics and mode of spread of the disease, outlined below, are not contested. But this comment aims to go beyond these data in order to shed light on the underlying aetiology of the disease, that is, the global and local political, economic, and other societal factors that underlie Ebola’s appearance, spread and high fatality rate at this moment in time and in the particular settings where it has proliferated.
Ebola Epidemics in the past four decades
EVD – Ebola Virus Disease as it is now officially termed – is not a new disease and was first reported almost 40 years ago. Formerly known as Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, simultaneous outbreaks of the disease were reported from Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. The latter outbreak was in a village situated on the Ebola river – hence the name. It is conceivable that Ebola infections had remained undetected in rural communities before the identified outbreaks. Since 1976 there have been 24 discrete reports of clusters of infections from different countries in Africa . The following Table provides details of outbreaks where more than a hundred people were reported to have been infected, before the current epidemic. Read more here