November 3, 2014

ACAS Statement on US Reactions to the Outbreak of Ebola in West Africa

ACAS Statement on US Reactions to the Outbreak of Ebola in West Africa

29 October, 2014

The Association of Concerned Africa Scholars (ACAS) urges that all Americans and their public representatives and organizations support the efforts to eradicate Ebola in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and adhere to scientific standards in addressing the threats of the spread of the disease in the US. Ebola is a highly infectious disease with a very particular footprint. We are currently seeing it cruelly ravage some of the poorest populations on Earth. In West Africa, estimates are that there has been a 70% fatality rate. However, Ebola is a public health emergency like other emergencies. It can be successfully combatted through basic, stringently observed public health safety measures, and the odds of survival of patients with Ebola can be greatly improved with thorough and compassionate medical care.

We also urge American public officials and private individuals to educate themselves about this disease in order not to fall prey to fear-mongering and the furthering of racist stereotyping. The US mass media too often portrays Ebola along the lines of a horror film rather than reporting on it soberly and accurately. Instead, we know that the US health system, while flawed, is perfectly able to treat and isolate any cases of Ebola that might come to our shores. The public health and hospital systems of West Africa are sadly, very weak, for a whole host of historical reasons. Even so, the compassion that is often shown by people there with very few resources puts the small-mindedness of many Americans to shame. We can learn valuable lessons from people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia about how to handle the emotional and physical stresses that are laid on individuals and communities when they are faced with a devastating viral episode like Ebola.

We deplore the ignorance and insensitivity that has led some Americans to try to bar people from any part of Africa from public spaces like schools and restaurants because of a supposition that all Africans are infected with Ebola.

Finally, we acknowledge and salute those medical personnel who have put themselves in harm’s way to work with West African governments, charities, churches and civil society organizations to address the Ebola outbreak. They should be treated with respect and dignity and their constitutional rights must be upheld upon their return to the US.

Association of Concerned Africa Scholars:


Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin)