Ebola Outbreak: Not simply some figures

The arrival of the first Ebola patient to Emory University  Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia under extraordinary precautions also meant the arrival of the first Ebola case in the Western Hemisphere. This was an extraordinary incident marking the most severe outbreak of Ebola in history, which was announced to the public by international news channels with headlines such as “Ebola comes to the U.S” though they failed to mention that this arrival was planned, coordinated and supervised by the US Centers for Disease Control in the hope that the patient might be cured.

This is also a sign showing that the epidemic has reached an alarming phase, given the fact that this deadly disease was confined only to Africa during its previous outbreaks. The ongoing 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak affecting Liberia, Guinea and  Sierra Leone is “unprecedented”, as authorities say, “which came out of the blue in West Africa.” In these West African countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) had confirmed 1,009 cases and 574 deaths thus far. 

The stakes have never been higher because first of all  the virus, which has no vaccine, is no longer threatening only the rural areas of Africa but is spreading across borders to populated areas. This makes Ebola a huge risk in Africa. Meanwhile in the US, despite the absence of a vaccine, the resources for containment of the disease are incomparably more advanced and thus it is not considered as a huge risk. So what has set off the alarm bells  now that the virus has crossed the Atlantic and reached US shores if it does not pose a grave risk? 

Maybe Ebola will not pose a threat to the other side of the Atlantic but certainly it is a remarkable example showing us that no matter in which corner of this planet we live, we are not immune to a catastrophe happening in any part of it. 

Owing to the rapid means of travel and effective communication, no matter how separated by vast distances they may be, people have been interacting  with one another as in no other time in history; as it is popularly phrased, the world has turned into a global village. This new structure of the world has also changed the socio-demographic texture as a whole, urging world citizens to act more responsibly and in a humanitarian fashion in cases where they don’t employ their conscience and act morally upright. 

The Ebola outbreak has made this point even more explicit. Professor John Ashton, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, writing about the Ebola outbreak in The Independent made a striking comment. He said, “It seems that the involvement of powerless minority groups has contributed to a tardiness of response and a failure to mobilize an adequately resourced international medical response” . He also said, “The pharmaceutical industry are reluctant to invest in research to produce treatments and vaccines because the numbers involved are, in their terms, so small and don’t justify the investment.” One of the Britain’s leading public health doctors blames the failure to find a vaccine against the Ebola virus on the “moral bankruptcy” of the pharmaceutical industry to invest in a disease because it has thus far only affected people in Africa, despite hundreds of deaths. 

Surely this is not the only time that this particular industry, and many others whose  main goal is to ostensibly  serve humanity, has ignored the essential “human element” - which needs to be given the utmost priority – and put “profit” above everything. There are so many movies, novels, newspaper stories that have made us acquainted with such depravity that we are no longer baffled by this notion.

The “human element” is also  not properly addressed by the media while covering disaster stories, whereas the topic is essentially about “human beings.” From various media outlets, we are used to hearing words like “death tolls”, “casualties”, “affected populations”; in brief, simply figures. However we  rarely  think that these words or phrases  represent an individual: A human being having a life, a family, and loved ones. 

As with the recent developments, Ebola has finally made it on to the front pages of international media, we are also witnessing this approach. A precious being is reduced to and represented by  “figures”  which also cause us to focus on the technical details of the epidemic rather than the human aspect. 

The news reports are replete with a history of the epidemic, the years when previous  outbreaks occurred, the number of affected people, statistics, timelines, etc., while among all these numbers, it is hard to see any mention to the babies, toddlers, mothers, grandfathers - in brief, the sufferers - that will remind us that they are human beings who, having faced such a disaster,  deserve the utmost care, love and tenderness. 


As people with insight, we need to keep in mind that we have the power of love to turn the tide and make the “human element” come to the fore in every aspect of life. In a time when a great part of the world is being devastated by internal conflicts, disasters and inexplicable suffering, a state of mind that views  “human beings” with love rather than as  “figures” will save the world. 


[1] The Independent, Sunday, August 03, 2014

[2] News Team, Sunday, 03 August 2014, 15:09

[3] The Independent, Sunday 03 August 2014


Adnan Oktar's piece on News Rescue:



2014-08-17 20:39:59

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