W5: Stopping the Spread of Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases are inevitable. Illnesses and diseases occur as a result of various phenomena and are virtually impossible to avoid completely. However, once contracted, there should be a definite and secure system in place to properly contain and treat the disease and protect healthy individuals from getting the sickness. The problem is that many undeveloped countries do not have a stable or established medical system in place so diseases, such as the recent Ebola outbreak in Africa, turn into a widespread epidemic. There is no way to control it since there is no established system that can properly contain and diffuse the illness. Undeveloped countries’ limited medical resources and knowledge is an example of a term Dr. Paul Farmer, a specialist in infectious diseases that has dedicated his life to help the poor in impoverished countries gain access to proper medical care (Farmer, 2014), defines as structural violence. In his opinion, “Structural violence is one way of describing social arrangements that put individuals and populations in harm’s way. The arrangements are structural because they are embedded in the political and economic organization of our social world; they are violent because they cause injury to people” (Gabriel, 2016). In an interview, Dr. Farmer explains that infectious epidemics are the result of long-standing and growing inequalities in regard to access to healthcare. Impoverished countries do not have the necessary resources or knowledge to stop the disease from spreading, so he believes it is the responsibility of developed countries and informed professionals to help those who do not have a stable medical system establish one of their own (Farmer, 2014).

One article that directly is in conjunction with Dr. Farmer’s idea of fighting infectious diseases is called Collaboration in the Fight Against Infectious Diseases. Hinted at in the title, the article aims to explain that, “we now have the power to push infectious diseases off the world stage but only if governments, world health organizations, the private sector, scientists, and researchers work together with a global strategy” (Shalala, 1998). When comparing author Donna Shalala’s article and this particular statement to Dr. Farmer’s interview, it can be seen that they both agree there needs to be an established medical system in order to fight infectious diseases. The difference is that Dr. Farmer only takes into consideration that this is the job of medical professionals while Shalala is claiming that many to all facets of society need to come together and collaborate on how to best going about doing this. In my personal opinion, there needs to be a combination of the two to successfully end epidemics completely.


Farmer, Paul. Dr. Paul Farmer on African Ebola Outbreak: Growing Inequality in Global Healthcare at Root of Crisis. By Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzalez. Democracy Now!, August 22, 2014.

Gabriel, Cynthia. “Critical Medical Anthropological Theory.” Presentation for the course ANP 370: Culture, Health, and Illness, 2016.

Shalala, Donna E. “Collaboration in the Fight Against Infectious Diseases.” About Emerging Infectious Diseases 4, no. 3 (1998): 355.

2 thoughts on “W5: Stopping the Spread of Infectious Diseases

  1. Hi Grace, I enjoyed reading your article especially because of the focus on how we need to improve socially more than medically to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. By improving how we are socially structured we may be able to even prevent any spread of disease. It would also benefit to improve the medical care provided to other countries where some diseases are more prominent since one of the reasons they became so is lack there of. My opinion of the outbreak of Ebola would be that is spread so quickly because of lack of knowledge to the infected communities. I believe if these people had been more informed of Ebola and how it is spread, they would have had a better fighting chance. Another reason I believe it spread so quickly was the fact that mass amounts of people were being quarantined. In these efforts to section off the infected, people who had not been in contact with the disease were now trapped by it. These efforts caused mass hysteria and chaos and everything was just a big, deadly mess. By providing more information and education to underdeveloped countries the spread of infectious diseases can be maintained quickly or even be prevented.

  2. The first sentence of your blog post really caught my attention. I believe too that illnesses are inevitable, even if we miraculously cured every disease in the world, new ones would still soon emerge. This is why it is important to stay on top of all infectious diseases and find not only cures but preventions so that people don’t get sick in the first place. I like how you focused on access to healthcare and resources and how underdeveloped countries can not find preventions and cures because they can’t obtain it. This is a major issue around the world, which is why more developed countries need to be helping everyone. In an article I read for this material, the national institute of health announced their launch of a new Zika vaccine trail. The article then proceeded to say that Obama asked congress to approve over a billion dollars in money for Zika research, but they have not been able to agree on a funding package. I believe if countries worked together and all funded research for infectious diseases, we would have better outcomes and more funding for a lot more things. This ties into what you are talking about in your blog of how developed countries need to help those with an unstable medial system and make it better.

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