According to Paul Farmer, “structural violence” is a way of describing different arrangements that put people in danger (Farmer). These arrangements relate to the political and economic organization of society (Farmer). It is safe to say that not everyone in the world has the same access to things such as medication, surgical procedures, and cleanliness. For example, a person who is in a highly toxic environment is more likely to have breast cancer as apposed to a person who is not (Gabriel). But this is not an example of structural violence. A disease like Ebola has more of a political and economical relation to stopping it. Since March 2014, statistics show that West Africa has had the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus (“2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa”). The widespread of Ebola has been controlled since then, but cases in West Africa can still exist and spread (“2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa”). In the United States, you do not see the disease spreading rapidly, and the reasoning lies within the differences between Africa in the United States Health system. Economically, West Africa is very poor; meaning they cannot afford proper health care. The United States is privileged with the ability to isolate and treat anyone who has contracted this virus. This stops the virus from spreading all over. Since Africans do not have the same access to proper health care, the virus is free to spread wherever it may like. This is an obvious medical problem, but more so a political and economical problem, in my opinion. The world should fight future Ebola outbreaks equally around the world. Medical assistance should not be something that is only to those who are more privilege than others, and I’m sure that most people would agree with this statement.
Another problem linked to economical and political problems is the spread of disease in refugee camps. Serious problems related to the cleanliness of food and water can take some of the blame for the rapid spread of certain diseases in refugee camps (Sinha). Cholera outbreak have been linked to camps in places like South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Libya (Sinha). In the first lecture from this section, Cholera was mentioned when speaking about Peru (Gabriel). The reason for this outbreak was because the water supply system had not been updated in years (Gabriel). This is an example of structural violence because it can relate back to Peru’s political problem. If the country did not have enough money for a new water system, is the outbreak of Cholera more of an economical or medical issue?
Farmer, Paul, and Haun Saussy. Partner to the Poor: A Paul Farmer Reader. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.
Gabriel, Cynthia, Ph. D. “Critical Medical Anthropology Theory” Lecture, Online, August 4, 2016.
Sinha, Vidushi. “Refugee Camps Spread Life-Threatening Diseases.” ReliefWeb. Accessed August 05, 2016. http://reliefweb.int/report/world/refugee-camps-spread-life-threatening-diseases.
“2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2016. Accessed August 05, 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/.