Week 5: Combating Structural Violence

Structural violence exists when social structures prevent people from obtaining basic necessities. Basic necessities can include medications or other items that can prevent the outbreak of certain diseases like Ebola in Africa. Ebola was considered an “emerging” disease because the number of incidences increased drastically in a very short period of time. This emerging disease or outbreak is a perfect example of structural violence against the African people. An outbreak of Ebola would not have occurred the same way in the United States as it did in Africa. There would have been measures put in place the limit the spread of the disease and those who were affected would be treated immediately. This is because the United States has the resources to take action in the event an outbreak like the one in Africa were to occur. Why weren’t those resources immediately available to the people in Africa? That is because there was no money for them to pay for these “luxuries”. It is sickening that these medications and medical treatments are considered luxuries when people’s lives are at risk. When someone is at risk of dying, any and all resources should be made available to them, regardless of whether or not they can afford to pay for them. If there were an outbreak like this one in a country that the United States identifies as an ally, they would have sent an unlimited amount of resources and assistance to prevent the spread of the disease. To fight further Ebola outbreaks, I believe this is the response that the United States and other countries of the world need to have regardless of where the outbreak occurs. It is hard to predict when and when these events are going to occur, so there should be a special task force that is solely responsible for controlling these infectious diseases around the world. Such a thing exists in the United States, but If it existed on a multinational scale then the Ebola outbreak in Africa would have never happened, or at least could have been minimized. From an article listing the top ten outbreaks in United States history Ebola was listed as one of them. Only two Americans were documented as having contracted Ebola. That shows how minimal the effects were in the United States compared to Africa, yet it is still considered to be one of the worst. The effects of structural violence can be reduced drastically if any of these measures were enacted.

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/08/07/an-epidemic-top-10-outbreaks-in-u-s-history-ebola/ accessed 8-5-16

5 thoughts on “Week 5: Combating Structural Violence

  1. Hi John!
    I really liked your take on the subject of structural violence. I talked about a similar take on it in my post and how the treatment of patients in Africa is not even close to an American’s treatment. My solution was very similar to yours as well in the fact that I think equality is key when it comes to fighting infectious diseases. If we really think about it, it is to our benefit to solve the world’s health problems because we live in a global economy. Many of our daily products are imported from other parts of the world. Many of the people we see everyday come from other parts of the world. It makes sense that if we want to be better, then we would make the less developed countries better as well. I liked how you used “luxuries”. The healthcare system we are involved in here really involves a lot of luxuries. If you think about it, when you are attempted to a hospital, you are given a lot more than absolutely necessary. Some hospital rooms now even look like small one bedroom apartments. We would be appalled by the facilities and the care that is provided in other countries, yet we don’t want to do much to help with their care which really could affect us.

  2. Hi John! Great job on your response this week. I agree with you on the fact that other countries should send aid when it is needed. There is no reason the United States should hold on to resources when they could be better used elsewhere (i.e. Medicine). The big hurdle I see with that is the profit driven aspects of the medical industry. Big businesses want to make money, so they are not always willing to work for free or give away resources that quickly.

    One thing I thought of while reading your post was that even though countries better equipped to handle these kind of disasters should come in and help, there are limitations to what their help would do. If outside sources came in to a setting similar to the refugee camps we read about, they couldn’t build a hospital or a bigger more sterile environment in the time it would need to be done. They certainly can make every effort to help with the pre-existing conditions. However, I think the effected country needs to take preventative measures by eradicating these over crowded spaces. Infrastructure improvement is key. Money is yet another obstacle to this problem.

  3. Hi John! I really like how you used Ebola as an example of what structural violence is. It is upsetting that Ebola is now considered an “emerging” disease since the number of incidences increased significantly in such a short time. You are also right that if this were to happen in the United States we would have the resources to contain the disease and not let it spread like it did in Africa. The film that we watched from this week states that Africa’s communities are in poor conditions because of the lack of access to health care services. Ebola centers are not meeting the expectations that are needed for patients to live (Film 5.1). It is overwhelming that socioeconomic status can have such a huge impact on ones health. From an article that we read this week called, Rethinking ‘Emerging Infectious Diseases’, it mentions that many “tropical” diseases affect the poor; the groups at risk for these diseases are typically defined more by socioeconomic status than by latitude. In Haiti, for example, patients with malaria are almost exclusively those living in poverty (Farmer, 2006). Hopefully we can combat these issues so that one day there will be equal access of medical care to everyone.


  4. Hey John! Great post. I really enjoyed reading it. It seems as though you really grasped the concept of structural violence in relation to healthcare systems. You explained very well that Ebola in Africa is a great example of structural violence because of their lack of resources and knowledge to properly take action and contain the sickness and keep it from spreading out of control like it did.
    I completely agree with your point that medical treatments are considered luxuries and it is awful that it is that way. When someone is at risk of death, let alone a whole population, that can no longer be considered a luxury, but a necessity. Because of their lack of resources, Ebola spread out of control. Had the infected areas had an already established and stable healthcare system, this would have not otherwise happened. I believe also there should be outside help from those countries that are properly educated and have the resources to help those countries that don’t. Undeveloped countries are in need of help and it is the responsibility of developed countries to ensure outbreaks like Ebola do not reoccur. It would be morally incorrect to keep life saving information and resources from those that need it most.

  5. Hi John! I really relate with your point about how life or death struggles should not be considered luxuries. There are certain “luxuries” one does obtain by living in first-world countries such as up-to-date technology advancements and access to opportunities such as education or property in an expensive real-estate market. However, I think your point is very true. I agree that life or death matters should not be held in that category. Those measures that would have been taken in another country weren’t taken in Africa because the knowledge, professionals, and research were not there. I agree with your logic saying that it was a mistake for the United States to not intervene and do the same thing for Africa since this is definitely not a luxury but dealing with human lives. The really upsetting part, I’m sure, for many people was the fact that once other countries were involved, including the United States, preventative measures were taken. These measures could be looked at as too little, too late especially on the premise that these measures were only taken as it started to become a global epidemic. The word “Ebola” was a house-hold term. Would the US ever have intervened had it not come in contact with its own safety? We may never know.

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