Category Archives: Class

EbolaWatch: Angst, profiteering, and Africa


Always Africa, first with a report from CCTV Africa:

Guinea Village Believed to be ‘source’ of Ebola outbreak

Program notes:

Guinea’s Melliandou village is believed to be the place where the current Ebola outbreak started. Researchers from The New England Journal of Medicine have traced the origin of the virus to a family in which a two-year-old boy from the village was the first victim to have died of Ebola in December 2013. CCTV’s Carol Oyola reports

And from StarAfrica, fears of spread to yet another country:

Ebola fears in Sudan’s oilfields spread

Fears have spread in the oil-rich Sudanese state of West Kordofan after four suspected cases of Ebola were alleged among oil workers in the area, medical sources disclosed on Saturday. The sources confirmed that two civilians died from an infection in El Muglad city , and two other infected remain in the hospital of El Fula, West Kordofan.

They claimed that the cases were all showed symptoms of Ebola may qualify for the deadly virus.

Medical source from El Fula hospital said that the hospital treated the two patients the same as patients with hemorrhagic fever.

“The two cases are now isolated and receiving treatment as hemorrhagic fever till further blood investigation diagnosis about the type of the hemorrhagic fever,” he added.

On to the U.S., first with a case of Ebola politics from BuzzFeed:

Democratic Senator Slams NRA, Republicans Over Ebola Response

  • Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown blamed the NRA for a lack of a U.S. surgeon general, and Congressional Republicans for cuts to public services

A Democratic senator puts the blame for the Centers for Disease Control’s slow response to Ebola directly on the National Rifle Association and Senate and House Republicans.

Speaking in a local radio interview on Thursday, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown blamed the NRA for a lack of a U.S. surgeon general, and Congressional Republicans for cuts to public services.

“We don’t have a surgeon general to, to run this, to oversee this, because of the opposition to him brought on by opposition from the National Rifle Association,” Brown said.

“So we’re not – we have cut spending on public health in this country, um, because some members of Congress, unfortunately a majority in the House, would prefer to do tax cuts for the wealthiest people and cut public services like CDC, like National Institutes of Health, like early childhood education – this wasn’t foreseen but some of it could have been prevented if we had people in Washington that really looked out more for the public interest than for their special interests.”

Quarantine affirmations from the New York Times:

Governors of New York and New Jersey Defend Ebola Quarantine Amid Concerns

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey stood by his decision to require medical workers who had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa into quarantine, even as the first health worker to be isolated under the new policy spoke publicly for the first time Sunday, calling her treatment “inhumane” and accusing Mr. Christie of making misleading statements about her health.

Kaci Hickox, who was ordered into quarantine after landing at Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday even though she had no symptoms associated with Ebola, said during an interview with CNN that officials still have not told her what they plan to do next or why they are isolating her since she poses not public health risk as long as she remains asymptomatic.

In that interview, she also blasted Mr. Christie for saying that she was sick, when it was clear that she was not running a fever and had tested negative for Ebola.

“The first thing I would say to Governor Christie is that I wish he would be more careful about his statements about my medical condition,” she told CNN. “If he knew anything about Ebola he would know that asymptomatic people are not infectious.”

While another state joins the list, via the Associated Press:

Florida orders 21-day monitoring for Ebola

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is ordering twice daily monitoring for anyone returning from places the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designates as affected by Ebola.

Scott signed the order Saturday, giving the Florida Health Department authority to monitor individuals for 21 days. Scott said in a press release that his administration had asked the CDC to identify risk levels of returning individuals from specific parts of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, requesting information specifically about the risk level for four people who had already returned. His office said that the CDC had identified the four individuals who faced some risk but had not provided the levels of risk.

“Therefore, we are moving quickly to require the four individuals who have returned to Florida already – and anyone in the future who will return to Florida from an Ebola area – to take part in twice daily 21-day health evaluations with DOH personnel,” he said.

Florida joins New Jersey, New York and Illinois in ordering the 21-day monitoring program.

And the counterargument, via the Associated Press:

US disease expert argues against Ebola quarantine

The gulf between politicians and scientists over Ebola widened on Sunday as the nation’s top infectious-disease expert warned that the mandatory, 21-day quarantining of medical workers returning from West Africa is unnecessary and could discourage volunteers from traveling to the danger zone.

“The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those health care workers, so we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very, very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer to go,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Meanwhile, Kaci Hickox, the first nurse forcibly quarantined in New Jersey under the state’s new policy, said in a telephone interview with CNN that her isolation at a hospital was “inhumane,” adding: “We have to be very careful about letting politicians make health decisions.”

Golden State preparations from the Los Angeles Times:

UCLA, 4 other UC hospitals ready to treat California Ebola patients

Officials announced Friday that all five University of California medical centers are positioned to provide care for Californians with confirmed Ebola — should any such cases arise.

As of the announcement, there were no confirmed or suspected patients with Ebola in the state, the University of California Office of the President and the California Department of Public Health emphasized, in a press release announcing the hospitals’ readiness. But the UC facilities — in Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco — all said they would be ready to leap into action if that changed.

“We appreciate [the UC Medical Centers’] leadership role in willingness to treat Ebola patients,” said state health department director Dr. Ron Chapman, in the statement.

“In the past weeks we have been actively readying ourselves for any health eventuality related to Ebola,” added Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services.

From the Independent, the anti-testimonial:

Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox says she was ‘made to feel like a criminal’ after return home to US

A nurse has criticised the process for treating aid workers when they return home saying she was met with a “frenzy of fear” when she landed in America.

Kaci Hickox said that when she arrived back in the US on Friday after working with Doctors without Borders in Sierra Leone she was met with “a frenzy of disorganisation, fear and most frightening, quarantine”.

The nurse, who tested negative for Ebola, wrote in the Dallas Morning News: “This is a situation that I would not wish on anyone. I am scared for those who will follow me” and suggested that other health workers could be put off doing aid work.

Ms Hickox said that after she arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport following a two-day journey from West Africa, she was taken to a quarantine office and questioned.

“One man who must have been an immigration officer because he was wearing a weapon belt that I could see protruding from his white coveralls barked questions at me as if I was a criminal,” she said.

And with litigation to come, via the London Telegraph:

US nurse sues after being forced into quarantine as she returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone

  • Kaci Hickox accused New York and New Jersey officials of criminalising those risking their lives to fight virus in Africa

A US nurse who says she was treated like a “criminal” after returning from caring for Ebola victims in West Africa has hired a top human rights lawyer to challenge her enforced quarantine.

Kaci Hickox, the first person to be placed under a new mandatory quarantine for health workers who arrive back in the US via airports in New York, New Jersey and Chicago, was ordered into a 21 day period of isolation despite testing negative for the disease.

She has now hired Norman Siegel, a high profile civil rights attorney, to challenge the order.

And she finds an ally, via the Los Angeles Times:

New York mayor criticizes New Jersey’s ‘disrespect’ of Ebola nurse

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the treatment of a symptom-free nurse quarantined in New Jersey after she returned from caring for Ebola patients in West Africa, saying, “What happened to her was inappropriate.”

De Blasio’s remarks came during a  news conference at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, where a doctor infected with the deadly virus remained in serious but stable condition Sunday, showing slight improvement. Dr. Craig Spencer had recently returned from a stint with Doctors Without Borders in West Africa, where he treated Ebola patients. Spencer tested positive for Ebola on Thursday.

The mayor spoke during a time of heightened anxiety both in the nation’s largest city and in the governor’s offices of New York, New Jersey and Illinois, with the states ordering medical personnel returning from West Africa to be preemptively quarantined for 21 days — the longest incubation period known for Ebola.

More politics, via The Hill:

Issa: Ebola quarantines stem from lack of trust in federal government

House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Sunday that a lack of trust in the federal government is forcing governors to mandate quarantines for those returning from West Africans nations battling Ebola.

“Governors of both parties are reacting to an absence of leadership,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Issa said if it is true that people who have become infected with Ebola are not contagious until they are showing symptoms, “immediate isolation of people for 21 days is not the answer.”

Issa said he supported continuous monitoring, but added that there was no trust in the federal government to ensure it is done correctly.

And a pullback from Channel NewsAsia Singapore:

New York state backtracks on Ebola rules after White House weighs in

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said there would no longer be a blanket quarantine procedure for all people entering the state from affected countries in West Africa.

New York state on Sunday (Oct 26) eased its rules for how those arriving from Ebola-stricken West Africa must be treated, ending a mandatory isolation period for people who had no contact with an infected patient.

New York, New Jersey and Illinois have drafted in measures that see health care workers returning from West Africa – epicentre of the most deadly Ebola outbreak on record – quarantined for three weeks, while a fourth US state, Florida, has ordered twice-daily monitoring during that period.

But under pressure from the White House, where officials believe these rules could deter health workers from helping fight the epidemic in West Africa, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo rushed to ease his state’s Ebola-clearance procedures.

And a broadside in Africa from BBC News:

Ebola: Visiting envoy Samantha Power condemns response

The US ambassador to the UN has begun a visit to the three nations worst hit by the Ebola outbreak, criticising the level of international support so far. Samantha Power has landed in Guinea and will visit Sierra Leone and Liberia.

She told NBC some nations who offered backing “haven’t taken responsibility yet” in supplying aid and doctors.

Ms Power told NBC as she boarded her plane: “The international response to Ebola needs to be taken to a wholly different scale than it is right now.”

She said: “You have countries at the UN where I work every day who are signing on to resolutions and praising the good work that the US and the UK and others are doing, but they themselves haven’t taken the responsibility yet to send docs, to send beds, to send the reasonable amount of money.”

After the jump, a Korean border closure, questions as the American military deploys in the hot zone, Big Pharma’s profit dreams, fast-tracking a test, an Ebola scare Down Under and a much-anticipated test, African infrastructure woes, Chinese capabilities questioned, Nigeria dispatches medics to the hot zone but neglect lessons learned at home, on to Sierra Leone and a presidential plea against isolation, a video report on stark conditions in Freetown, and economic side effect, plus so me catastrophe profiteering in the good ol’ U.S.A. . . . Continue reading

Quote of the day: Inequality and Ebola


From Nissim Mannathukkaren of Dalhousie University’s international relations faculty in Halifax, Nova Scotia, writing in The Hindu:

Inequalities are at the heart of the Ebola crisis. Ebolas are produced in a world in which the United States spends $8,362 annually per person on health while Eritrea (Africa) spends $12. It is the same world in which the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries which constitute a mere 18 per cent of the world’s population spend 84 per cent of the total money spent on health in the world. Thus, unsurprisingly, 95 per cent of tuberculosis deaths and 99 per cent of maternal mortality are in the developing world.

And these inequalities are not only between the developed and the developing worlds, but also exist within the developed world as the health indicators of African Americans and indigenous people in North America show. In the city of London, it is estimated that while travelling on the tube eastwards from Westminster, each tube station signifies the loss of approximately one year of life expectancy.

It is not an accident that Ebola’s epicentre is in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. They are some of the poorest countries in the world with a history of wars and conflicts, and of collapsing or dysfunctional health systems. Liberia has only 51 doctors to serve 4.2 million people and Sierra Leone, 136 for six million.

Inequalities mark every step of the current outbreak. Questions are being asked about the initial tardy hospital treatment given to Duncan and whether his race and class had anything to do with it — here was an African man without medical insurance seeking emergency medical help in the most privatised and corporatised medical system in the West. That his nine-day treatment cost $5,00,000 (Rs.3 crore) should tell us something about the state of global health care.

When American missionaries Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were infected with Ebola in Liberia, the American government had them airlifted — isolated in an “aeromedical biological containment system” — and had them successfully treated in the U.S. Contrast this with the 22-year-old Liberian woman and nurse-in-training, Fatu Kekula, who was forced to look after four of her Ebola-stricken family members at home using trash bags as protective gear after hospitals turned her away.

Quote of the day: America’s imperiled kids


From the abstract of a stunning new analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics:

Children account for 73.5 million Americans (24%), but 8% of federal expenditures. Data on health and health care indicate that child well-being in the United States has been in decline since the most recent recession. Childhood poverty has reached its highest level in 20 years, 1 in 4 children lives in a food-insecure household, 7 million children lack health insurance, a child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds, and 1 in 3 children is overweight or obese. Five children are killed daily by firearms, 1 in 5 experiences a mental disorder, racial/ethnic disparities continue to be extensive and pervasive, and major sequester cuts and underfunding of pediatric research have damaged our global leadership in biomedical research and hobbled economic growth.

Chart of the day II: Separate and very unequal


From MIT Technology Review. And click on it to enlarge:

BLOG Unequal

Commodified labor: The Internet ate your job


A deft deconstruction from the Guardian:

The internet is after your job

Program notes:

New technology can destroy jobs. In the past, this has mainly affected unskilled jobs, but now it’s hitting the middle classes – cutting a swathe across the creative industries and ‘professions’.

Within a generation we may find that there are no such things as a ‘career’ or ‘job security’. What’s driving this disruption to our working lives – and what can you do about it?

Chart of the day: America’s growing wealth divide


From the Urban Institute via the Washington Post:

BLOG Racial divide

Joel Pett: Now that’s really creative


From the editorial cartoonist of the Lexington Herald-Leader:

BLOG Creative