The Political Economy of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West African Countries
Obilade, Titilola T.
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The Ebola virus disease (EVD) was first reported to have been identified in Africa in 1976 when it occurred in south Sudan and Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). Its first occurrence in West Africa was in a 1994 lone infection of an ethnologist in Côte d’Ivoire but in 2014, there was an outbreak in West Africa stemming from an index case in Guinea. After more than a year, the outbreak is still ongoing. The EVD is one of the filoviral hemorrhagic fevers. This paper examined the political economies in West African nations in relation to the management of their natural resources and the resultant susceptibility to an infectious disease outbreak. A review of the African Development Bank Reports from 2007 to 2012 showed that abundant natural resources did not translate to improved economic opportunities but usually a downturn in economic resources and poor governance riddled by civil conflicts over the regions of natural resources. The foundational issues in the current outbreak lie in the political economies of the West African countries that have left the citizens of the affected nations poor with weak and struggling infrastructures. The numerous conflicts have made the West African nations susceptible to preventable diseases like EVD. Ecological studies also suggest that changes in climatic conditions around the West African country of Guinea enabled the Ebola virus to come in contact with humans. In order to achieve a long-term, sustainable control of EVD, the author admits that it is not enough to view the outbreak as just a result of a disease pathogen but to delve into the foundational causes of the disease outbreak which has made the West African nations susceptible to an infectious agent like the ebolavirus. These foundational causes are the outcomes of the political economies over natural resources in the West African nations. This paper suggests that governments of West African nations should develop a transborder framework for regions around natural resources and those governments should be more transparent with the people they govern. In addition, individuals and communities should take ownership in the prevention and control of EVD.