Like Sars and swine flu before it, Ebola has gripped the national imagination. I was made all too aware of this last week on my return to London from a holiday in Nigeria. I’m now two thirds of the way through my second pregnancy, and was due to have a routine midwife’s appointment the day after my flight landed at Heathrow. The only problem was that my midwives refused to see me.Quite rightly as it turned out:
They took this precaution as a result of two factors – my poorly toddler, who had a slight temperature, and heavy news coverage of the Ebola outbreak in west Africa.With those clinical symptoms & routing, they were right to be cautious. As even you have to agree:
Faced with the possibility of Ebola, my midwife was overly cautious. It’s a reaction I can understand, so I’m not inclined to judge or diminish itJust to make sure you get a column out of it?
Media coverage of the outbreak, however, doesn’t deserve the same reticence. In the press, communities dealing with the virus have been presented as irrationally suspicious of western medicine. The suggestion has been that they are, like the continent they live on, their own worst enemies.Well, yes. That’s merely pointing out a fact.
The fact that remote west African communities may view medics with suspicion is therefore understandable. Fear and mistrust of western institutions might also be explicable in the context of a history of exploitation by multinationals and colonial governments alike.Oh, ffs! Look, if they are hung up on the past to the point they won’t co-operate with attempts to fight a deadly filovirus outbreak, then to hell with ‘em!
Arguing that too much immigration “threatens” the stability of our fragile society, we allow “them” in at our peril. It’s not surprising then that the spotlight on Ebola has begun to stir latent anti-immigration sentiments.*yawns* Sweetie, the inscription reads ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…’, not ‘Give me your infectious, your doomed, your hidden dormant viruses yearning to replicate…’
Whinge all you want, we’ll rely on quarantine and travel bans rather than import an even worse problem than drug-resistant TB, congenital abnormalities, unsanitary practices and rickets, thanks very much.