Now that the threat of the spread of Ebola within the United States has diminished — for the present — news of the crisis has dropped into the back pages of the corporate-owned major newspapers and off the broadcast media. But the Ebola epidemic remains a continuing danger in parts of Africa and an ongoing threat that requires worldwide attention and action.
To date, over 20,000 people, mostly in West Africa, have contracted the disease; over 8,000 have died; and the number of new cases is still on the increase.
A sustained international effort is called for, but the response, especially from Western imperialist countries, has been minimal at best.
For example, the major U.S. government action has been the deployment of elite combat troops, such as the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions. The focus of these troops, according to the U.S chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, is “to … [establish] command and control nodes, logistic hubs … and [provide] engineering support” along with training for health care workers. The general made clear that none of the troops would be involved in directly treating or caring for victims of the epidemic. (Defense.gov, Oct. 1)
Little wonder that many question the real motives of what amounts to an invasion of the region.
By contrast, socialist Cuba has sent 256 medical workers to Africa, with 165 in Sierra Leone and the rest in Guinea and Liberia. In comparison to the relative total populations of the U.S. and Cuba, the U.S would need to send 7,680 doctors and health care workers to Africa to equal the Cuban effort.
From the beginning of the outbreak, the U.S. and its allies have attempted to politicize the Ebola crisis.
Volunteers from private agencies who traveled to West Africa from the U.S have often found themselves treated, not as heroes, but virtual pariahs upon their return.
By contrast, the Cuban volunteers are rightly considered heroes.
Because of the illegal U.S. embargo, many of the Cuban doctors in Africa — who are working under the aegis of United Nations organizations — have not only faced delays in their deployment, but even found that the U.S. Treasury had held up their pay and expenses for several months.
Despite all this, they have maintained their morale and internationalist spirit.
Cuban doctor Félix Báez — who contracted the virus in Sierra Leone in November, was treated and has since recovered — announced on Dec. 29 that he will return to the region.
Considering that the disease has already killed nearly 350 medical personnel, including 106 in Sierra Leone, the courage of the Cuban doctors must be commended. They are a shining example of the socialist ideal that health care is a human right for everyone in the world.