Unknown attackers recently torched Ebola treatment centers in the Congo twice in one week.
The incidents occurred last Sunday and Wednesday in the conflict-wracked eastern part of the country and were apparently in response to some locals’ suspicions that international aid workers are up to no good. Reuters wrote about this trend last September in a piece that described how some people “believe Ebola is either a political strategy, a business, or a curse”, a popular sentiment that would later contribute to an earlier high-profile attack prior to the latest ones. Most of the world hasn’t been paying attention to these events, but they portend a very disturbing development.
Firstly, there’s unanimity in the international scientific community about the extreme danger that Ebola outbreaks pose, especially the most recent one over the past year after the disease was detected in densely populated cities for the first time ever. Making matters much worse, Ebola is also very contagious, which is why patients must be placed in quarantine until they’re regarded as safe enough to return back to the public. Few Westerners question what was just mentioned, but the problem arises when Western science meets African traditions, as sometimes they’re not only incompatible with one another, but even contradictory.
Believe what they may, the Congolese who attack Ebola treatment centers are inadvertently participating in a new form of “zombie”-driven biological warfare in Central Africa. Releasing highly contagious patients who have contracted a deadly disease into populated areas is the height of irresponsibility and could easily be weaponized as the ultimate “black swan” event for catalyzing a large-scale catastrophe. Thankfully, that has yet to happen, but the threat is very real, though it’s also very difficult to properly deal with.
Hospitals aren’t prisons, and they can’t be guarded like military bases without further heightening locals’ suspicions about what’s really going on behind their walls. Correspondingly, using deadly force to fight back attacking protesters might make militant anti-treatment provocations even worse, even if the authorities have no choice. It would seem like the simplest solution would be to educate people about the dangers of Ebola and the necessity for urgent treatment, but once again, certain traditions come into play and the locals might not believe what’s told to them. This unfortunately suggests that a tragedy might just have to happen before anything changes for the better.
It’s impossible to predict with any degree of accuracy how that would play out, but seeing as how it’s Ebola that would be at the center of it, one can foresee a Congolese contagion causing countless casualties and leading to an unprecedented health emergency in part of the country. The authorities might be powerless to deal with this and could request international assistance from the UN, which wouldn’t just operate in a medical capacity but also in a military one too by imposing law and order in chaotic areas that have spiraled out of control. If that sounds familiar, it’s because “life imitates art”, and a real-life “zombie” movie might one day actually play out in the Congo.
By Andrew Korybko
Source: Oriental Review