Recently The Daily Show discussed the Ebola disease and the panic over it despite that Americans are more likely to die from things not related to Ebola.
Thomas Eric Duncan contracted Ebola after his visit to one of the West African nations afflicted by this disease died in at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
The hospital originally turned away after he visited the emergency room when he said that he had a fever of 103F. The second time he arrived at the hospital he arrived via ambulance. His soiled clothes, towels, blankets, and mattress remained in the apartment where him and his family lived. So far they are not exhibiting signs of Ebola and are currently quarantined at a undisclosed location.
There are criticisms about the hospital's decision to turn Mr. Duncan away after his first visit to the hospital. As noted with the other Ebola patients, they immediately received treatment. Mr. Duncan did not receive initial treatment and according to health officials as reported by the Dallas Morning News it is estimated that he came in contact with 114 people over the three days between his first hospital visit and the second one. On Sunday, a health care worker who helped treat Mr. Duncan is reported to have contracted the Ebola virus.
In the summer of 2013 I took a class on LGBT Politics and we discussed the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The general consensus was that education was the best weapon in combating the disease along with adequate funding and research in finding the appropriate treatment.
When HIV/AIDS first came into focus in the early 1980s, it was viewed as a disease that only the gays get. Part of that misinformation and ignorance was born out of the politics that happened during the time period that Ronald Reagan was president.
Reagan did not acknowledge that AIDS was an epidemic until 1987. It was after closeted actor Rock Hudson whom Reagan considered a friend die due to complications of the disease in October 1985.
Despite belonging to a Republican administration and the position of Surgeon General can be a political appointment, C. Everett Koop felt that he had a higher duty as a doctor to inform and educate the public about AIDS.
Every presidential administration in my lifetime has dedicated to HIV/AIDS awareness, but a lot of times those are subjected to the whims of Congress. The Congresses of the 1980s and 1990s generally had representatives from more conservative areas of the country. Yes, even the Democratic Party had conservatives in their party and had to go along with the whims of the Reagan and Bush administrations or face electoral defeat back in their home districts. Though the most vocal opponents to combating HIV/AIDS were Republicans and their connection to the religious right that was ushered in when Reagan was elected president.
Then there was the coordinated boogeyman campaign. The only way you get HIV/AIDS is if you have sex with men. You can get HIV/AIDS from a toilet seat or casual contact with other people. If the Democrats get into power, they're going to teach kindergartners how to put on condoms.
Society still has some inherent discriminations, but diseases and viruses do not. They do not care who they infect and afflict. They have one purpose: to make their host (a human being) sick.
And I heard the HIV/AIDS toilet seat rumor when I was in HIGH SCHOOL AT THE TURN OF THE MILLENIUM!
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), said, "In the 30 years I've been working in public health, the only thing like this has been AIDS" and "that we have to work now so that this is not the world's next AIDS."
President Obama has dedicated resources to combat Ebola. The president has deployed 4,000 troops to the region to help with fighting the disease, called for increased screening of persons arriving into the US from those regions, and is being briefed on the situation both domestically and internationally. A lot of these places do not have the infrastructure to combat this and if the situation deteriorates further it could cause these nations to collapse and the humanitarian effort becomes more dire than it already is.
But one of my main points, education.
The only way that someone can contract Ebola is if they come in contact with the blood, sweat, feces, urine, seamen, or any other bodily fluids of an Ebola patient. Unless you have traveled to the nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea recently, then you have nothing to worry about.
In fact Ezra Kline's Vox has this handy dandy flow chart to determine if you have Ebola.
Take a deep breath.
And crawl out of your doomsday shelter.
As I pointed out before the Jon Stewart piece as he goes through the list of things that we must do to save American lives… but we don't.
The CDC was subjected to Republican-led House budget cuts. Given that there is a virus, I think having a well-funded CDC would be important at this time.
Can you name the current Surgeon General?
If you said it is currently vacant, you are correct. We do not have a Surgeon General because of comments he said about firearms being a public health concern. Because you cannot say anything bad about our precious firearms in the United States.
The Republican-led House cut funding for food stamps and despite the myths, children are the ones who benefit the most from food stamps. Also, take a wild guess about where the people who rely on food stamps the most live? No, not the big cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, but rather the South. It is estimated that 20% of the population in the South use food stamps. The state with the highest percentage of the population using food stamps? Mississippi.
Also if you believe that most of the people who rely on food stamps are blacks, wrong again Newt Gingrich. According to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which oversees the food stamp program, 43 percent of those people are white.
We focus more on the external problems than we do our own internal problems. When there is an external threat, we are willing to spend whatever it takes and risk American lives to do so. This line of reasoning can also be applied to our 13-year long military involvement in Afghanistan and our current military operations combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (commonly referred as ISIS/ISIL).
But when it comes to actual solving problems that actually impacts the real citizens of this country within this country, we are paralyzed to do so and fail to fund the necessary resources to solve those problems.