We have a problem, and the problem comes in the form of a term that Dr. Paul Farmer describes as “structural violence.” In order to understand how to fight off infectious disease outbreaks in the future, we need to look at almost a completely seemingly unrelated phenomenon associated with disease: social inequality. This is explained with the idea of structural violence.
Structural violence, according to Dr. Farmer, is more or less an accumulation of wealth in one part of the world and an accumulation of misery and poverty in another while both exist in the same political/economic system. An example of this would be the modern Ebola example, where Americans rarely deal with cases of Ebola and most African villages are continuously plagued by it. What is prevalent here is the idea that one society is more technologically advanced/wealthy and one is the opposite, basically, for whatever the reason may be. The key here is to somehow bring the level of quality of medicine up for the less fortunate group. A lot of this is happening now, but an increased effort needs to be brought forth in order to truly kick these constant outbreaks.
Dr. Farmer spoke of how much the difference in quality and medical practices were in quarantine zones between the African nations and the United States. He described us as a very clean, thorough approach to making sure that the problem was fully contained to the greatest extent, whereas the other nations looked at weren’t properly taken care of or investigated (Farmer 2014). As a medical society that has successfully combated outbreaks, we must send teams over-seas to educate these people on proper protocol and techniques to minimize the chances of an outbreak as well as effectively fighting the disease itself.
In the fight against Ebola and disease, the most important tool is knowledge. Ebola hadn’t been seen anywhere near West Africa before, so people knew little about the disease, how deadly it can be or how to prevent its spread (Mercy Corps. 2015). We as the more knowledgeable society with this aspect of disease need to spread the knowledge and inform West African nations, as well as everyone around the world, about the terror that is Ebola. This accounts for all diseases, really. Knowledge is the first step in being able to overcome something, and it’s lacked in more places than not. Without really saying it, Dr. Farmer would probably agree with this approach of spreading knowledge, and that’s why it’s my approach. Teach a man to fish.