The link between privilege and health is proving more and more correlated with inequalities of health access and political failure to protect the public. During the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic, we saw first-hand how privileged and non-privileged nations reacted to the spread. Dr. Paul Farmer, in an interview with Democracy Now!, urged for people to recognize the disparity between low income areas and high income areas. This split between upper and lower privileged individuals has been known as “Structural Violence” where the social structure does not give proper medical access to social areas where modern medicine and medical tactics are unavailable.
In West Africa, their inability to quarantine the population and recognize the social patterns that led to the spread of the virus was an integral part in the spread of the virus (Beaubien, 2015). When there is no acknowledgement of lower health-accessed individuals, there is an increase in the likelihood of a disease spreading. Interestingly, I drew many similarities between The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, a book by Anne Fadiman and the current refugee crisis health conditions. In the book, the placement of the Hmong people into refugee camps (and a change in climate) led to a widespread spread of disease. This is also happening with refugees in camps across Europe. WHO identified the spread of these illnesses linked to food and waterborne quality (associated with the lower income quality housing that is provided). What is also important is prevention. Making sure that there is proper hygiene amongst refugee camps in extremely vital to helping ease any spread of disease. Something as simple as providing condoms to refugees in camps helps curbs migrant’s risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (WHO, 2016).
Is there a moral implication to help provide affected communities with any and all resources necessary to prevent unnecessary loss of life? I believe so. Dr. Farmer agrees, urging that since disease isn’t confined by borders, neither should the world’s response to health crisis’s. It is imperative that in the future, the world takes a diseases’ threats as threats against us all. As the world becomes more connected, the spread of disease is not so easily contained. By ensuring that low-income areas of the world are equipped with proper education, disease protocol, and equipment to handle these highly infectious diseases we ensure that the rest of the world is safe. Which, to me, is a beautiful reminder that when we lift up one another, everyone is benefitted as a result.
- Beaubien, Jason. “The Changing Face Of West Africa Has Fueled The Ebola Crisis.” NPR. September 05, 2015. http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2014/09/05/346142023/the-changing-face-of-west-africa-has-fueled-the-ebola-crisis.
- “Migration and Health: Key Issues.” WHO/Europe. 2016. http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-determinants/migration-and-health/migrant-health-in-the-european-region/migration-and-health-key-issues.