Ébola y resiliencia

Ébola, avance global y escala

A medida que pasan las semanas y meses, y la epidemia de ébola que afecta al continente Africano sigue contagiando a más personas, es tiempo de pensar en alternativas para manejar este virus que amenaza con convertirse en pandemia.

El actual brote de ébola fue detectado a principios de año en Guinea, expandiéndose rápidamente a Liberia, Sierra Leona y Nigeria. Por otro lado, en Agosto un nuevo brote de la enfermedad fue detectado en la República Democrática del Congo.

Hasta el 25 de Septiembre, según cifras oficiales del CDC, el número de contagiados por la enfermedad en África Occidental ascendía a 6.263, de éstos 2.917 pacientes ya han fallecido. Mientras en la República Democrática del Congo el total de casos es de 68, con 41 muertes y 28 casos confirmados por pruebas de laboratorio.

Por otro lado, si tomamos en cuenta declaraciones de personal de la Organización Mundial de la Salud, que aseguran que el conteo oficial de personas afectadas por el virus está largamente desvalorizado, nos encontramos en un escenario bastante complicado y difícil de manejar.

Médicos sin Fronteras, una de las organizaciones internacionales que ha estado permanentemente tratando a los pacientes afectados, ha declarado que el mundo está “perdiendo la batalla” contra el ébola. Así somos testigos de como la ventana de tiempo en la cual es posible tomar medidas efectivas para contener la expansión de esta peligrosa enfermedad rápidamente se va cerrando.

Los gobiernos occidentales han sido lentos en reaccionar. En las últimas semanas fondos internacionales han sido comprometidos para lidiar con el brote de ébola, pero si medidas certeras no son tomadas pronto, es de esperar que el brote salte a otra zona geográfica, convirtiéndose en una pandemia.

El caso de Venecia y la administración resiliente

Un artículo publicado recientemente en la revista Environment Systems and Decisions, trata sobre como Venecia lidió exitosamente con los brotes de plagas que la azolaron durante la edad media. Según los autores, la clave está en la resiliencia de las medidas adoptadas por las autoridades Venecianas; quienes a pesar de no entender a que se enfrentaban, fueron capaces de tomar medidas adaptativas que lograron frenar el avance de estas enfermedades.

Resiliencia en un concepto asociado a sistemas, a como éstos son capaces de lidiar con cambios, adaptándose de forma tal de conservar su funcionalidad. En este caso, como Venecia fue capaz de soportar los estragos de la peste negra sin sucumbir.

Las medidas tomadas por las autoridades de la época lograron detener el avance de plagas que aniquilaron a más de un tercio de la población Europea. Los Venecianos lograron trazar la ruta de avance de la enfermedad desde los puertos hasta el resto de la ciudad y desde los productos de consumo en las naves, hacia las bodegas y luego a las rutas de comercio. Basados en estos descubrimientos, los administradores decidieron tomar medidas físicas y sociales para combatir la plaga. Decisiones que hoy en día, serian consideradas como administración resiliente.

Las autoridades introdujeron 2 importantes conceptos: Lazaretto o aislación física, y Quarantine o aislación temporal. Es así como quienes llegaban por primera vez a la ciudad eran inspeccionados y luego debían permanecer en lugares alejados de la población por un periodo de tiempo de 40 días. Además, los médicos tomaron medidas precautorias para evitar ser contagiados, utilizando capas y guantes para cubrirse el cuerpo, además de tocar a los pacientes mediante un bastón. Posteriormente también decidieron emplear mascaras con un largo pico que contenían vinagre o hierbas aromáticas para purificar el aire que respiraban.

Estas medidas no fueron las únicas implementadas. En esa época no estaban claras las causas de la enfermedad, por lo que quienes atribuían su origen a la furia de Dios, rezaban y practicaban la auto-flagelación para expiar sus pecados. Quienes veían las llagas y ampollas en la piel de los enfermos como lugares vulnerables del cuerpo, los frotaban con metales considerados buenos para acrecentar la protección. Y quienes creían que la enfermedad era contagiada por vampiros, enterraban a los muertos con ladrillos en la boca para evitar que pudieran salir de sus tumbas.

El desafío hoy

Hoy tenemos más conocimientos sobre la enfermedad a la que nos enfrentamos, sin embargo no hemos sido capaces de contener su avance. Lo más importante del ejemplo Veneciano es la capacidad de crear nuevos métodos de adaptación para enfrentar desafíos, la capacidad de improvisar e imaginar nuevas respuestas y aplicarlas de forma disciplinada.

Tal vez una de al mayores diferencias de la Venecia medieval con el África contemporánea, es la existencia de rígidas jerarquías en la primera que hoy no existen en la segunda. Es verdad que es mucho más fácil implementar cambios, normas y políticas en una sociedad rígida que no tiene la opción de desobedecer. Es así como hoy para contener el avance del ébola en África, debemos ser innovadores y crear nuevos métodos que nos permitan adaptarnos a este nuevo desafío.

El caso del ébola en África es solo uno de los últimos ejemplos de enfermedades virales que parecen extenderse incontrolablemente. El mismo ébola es un virus con gran potencial de mutación, podría ser, que este virus mutara para contagiarse de forma respiratoria. Si esto ocurriera, la tasa de contagio del ébola aumentaría exponencialmente.

Los gobiernos de las naciones afectadas en África han decidido implementar cuarentenas en ciertas regiones y barrios en los que se encuentra presente la enfermedad. En Sierra Leona más de 2 millones de habitantes se encuentran actualmente en estado de cuarentena. Si bien esta medida es similar a una de las empleadas en el caso Veneciano, si la cuarentena no viene acompañada de otras medidas que ayuden a frenar el contagio, lo único que se logrará es alienar a los habitantes, predisponiéndolos a tomar una actitud combativa frente a otras posibles soluciones.

Por otro lado, trabajadores de la salud tanto nacionales como internacionales han sido atacados en reiteradas ocasiones mientras intentaban enterrar a los muertos o educar sobre cómo prevenir el contagio. Al menos 8 miembros de la Cruz Roja ya han muerto a consecuencia de estos ataques.

África es un continente que ha sufrido cientos de años de colonialismo y malas políticas de administración de las potencias Europeas. Los países africanos en su mayoría tienen gobiernos débiles, amenazados por rencillas internas y políticas globales que hacen poco por resolver este problema. Es así como la comunidad internacional tiene el deber de acudir de forma certera y empática en ayuda de los países afectados por esta enfermedad, y a fin de cuentas en ayuda propia al frenar la posible expansión de ésta enfermedad hacia otras zonas geográficas.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Ebola en America y perspectivas futuras | bcmty.org

  2. Thomas King

    Africa’s undesirable ebola trademark is a typical case of deja vu tagging. As foreseeable a branding as obesity is affixed to Americans, AIDS with homosexuality and spectacle donning a biologically determined prerequisite to nerdhood the brand smarts. Indeed this subliminal caped critiquing has ridden concealed behind an invisible piece of ideological masonry which pegs the people of Africa in pejoratively prescribed pens as if they were beasts needing to be contained. A barrier which has only risen in height since the postcolonial onslaught against the West began to gain traction and momentum in the 60s. As the Old Power has retreated and as the reformulation of a new world order has evolved, the Western wall has only continued to grow into a very lofty eyesore. For as the Berlin Wall sought to stunt the movement of people and ideas, the modern picket fence has served to shield Europa from the backward needy noir savage. It is quite possible that that is how Africa is envisioned and encapsulated in the white mind. A place of problems and dangerously close to contaminating the civilised world so Lordy help us. Since the ’92 Maastricht Treaty and the EUs conception, the containment of the Dark Continent has become a type of de facto mission par excellence. French, Italians, Spaniards, Greeks and other Southern states on Europe’s vulnerable underbelly have been entrusted with the duty of mopping up any African spillage which may manifest itself in the balmy Mediterranean pond. Long fading are the feel good endeavours to Band Aid Africa and feed the world. The new transition in Europe appears to be one of abhorrence towards a continent plagued and infested with pestilence and ills. A frenzied Occidental phobia of manic paranoia that Africans even after years of aid and assistance will always be an incurably sick case. A people with not the slightest clue of how to save themselves, lead by strong men not leaders, reluctant to apply ointment to a host of infectious concerns. The volition to envoy aid, dryer than the Saharan sun baked desert. An inbred inherent trembling of the masses and hordes that threaten to stampede their way into European states overrunning them with their unrivalled fertility rate and their zeal for religious and political propagation. Contracting Moors disorder like the bedridden Marseilles and the underlying nightmare of Europe loosing it’s Europeaness. The burqa clad coloureds must be halted at once. Sentiments of fascism slowly bubbling their way back to the surface as the financial crisis has inspired a new dawn of xenophobic contagion. Disdainful dehumanising racial dissections de nouveau of the shadowy beast the lascivious ebony man preying upon the impressionably naive young white feminised Europe. The eclipse of Zeus returning again in the form of the obscure bull for a repeated molestation of Europa A.D. This is not only racially degrading but a misogynistic slap on the cheek. The Africa affair springing up around the Eu is being treated like a societal smallpox pandemic. Even Mr Morality himself, the USA has shifted it’s African policy radically amidst the jittery Black Hawk down drama which only reinforced past imperial positions that Africa was an untamed land filledwithunruly savages. Instead, the far reaching arm of American justice self willingly relinquished it’s Marshall badge to the old world order entrusting that the European approach to discipline would suffice. Sam, giving confidence that it’s friends such as infamous Marianne would set the African straight. Gifting at least the Francophonic part of the continent to that other tri coleur lover of liberty to use as its own personal clay pigeon. They would be the stabilisers of the region like they were supposed to be in Vietnam. Hmm how did that turn out, I wonder? However, perhaps the White House are justified in their inclination to not dirty themselves with Africa. After all, it has been designated by the Pentagon as a European Frankenstein and one which they and not America should be reeling in. As in Liberia scenario whereThe arrogant assumption was that America’s black problem could be redumped back on Africa. How pragmatically clever of them? In Americas defence the peril is still nonetheless a product which Europe has chosen to run away from in order to build their hippy pot smoking free lovin EU which preaches about the virtues of ethical morality, lashing out at thosedespicably bad American states that still support the death sentence and those busting US prisons. In an ironic twist, the African state exists in it’s own kind of incarcerated limbo trapped in a Western cell of conceptual containment. The Africanisation of Africa reducing it to a sole understanding is debilitating to say the least. After all what Africa means to the West does not capture the perception of the continent by the multiple parties that make up this deeply diverse landmass. Just as one may deem me to be European in make up, I would specify the gene pool by declaring my being to be of AngloCeltic descent. But, that is only one facet of who I am. I belong to an invented state called nz, i go to a Catholic church in a technically Protestant nation, I am a member of a cricket club in a rugby loving land and so on. Descent is one thing, birth and statehood is another. My ethnicity should not make me more Kiwi than the next Nzder. If it did, the Maoris would be the real citizens of this land while I’d be relegated to being an imposter and/orafraud. Identities are complex and more than singular in nature, they are multiple. They often are not always harmonious with the essence of true national conformity. In my case, i don’t live on a farm, i don’t live my life in gumboots and black singlets and exuberant lamb prices mean i rarely see a morsel of lamb on my dinner plate. As a practising idealist i have long prescribed to the Latin creed of Ex malo bonum (out of bad comes goodness). At a more logical angle, I often mull over just how different Africa would have been had it’s frontiers been drawn up between Afticans. Kingdoms contrived of based around tribalAffinities, deity worship, language, social practices and geographic determinants. Even before the transference of the modern state to lands outside of Europe the idea had it’s own sickly enlightened world trials. Most problems in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, for instance, are a reflection of both Soviet and Ottoman carving, along with that ever lingering matter of the question of faith. In one’s view an unnecessary opiate of the masses in the other’s case the placebo of preference. And let’s not forget the West and their own concerns when it came to the carving of countries. What about the religious chopping of Ireland and the unwelcomed birth of the Pale, the spit and glue Italian and Spanish provincially natured statesand that oddest of odd little European bastard state of Belgium and it’s linguistic divide. Based on this trial and tensions that existed between European states it’s unsurprising that Africans were doomed from the get go in this diseased trial and error experiment. The need to take Africa to the cutting block an extension of the land partitioning long established back home on the continent. The African scramble giving some of the lesser European giants the opportunity to stroke their egos like the Italians in Ethiopia, the Germans in Namibia and that nasty Leopard and the brutal Belgian Congo. Diplomacy often entailed playing a blind eye to each other powers atrocities while building on the universal desire for trade. The Western propensity to put themselves first is reflected in their rapacious regional romp for resources. A small continent it may be but with a hunger which is only rivalled in the lands ruled by the descendants of the European exodus. The new exertion of power now exists in African commodities and Africa/ns as commodities. Oil consumption has indeed driven Europe to drain Africa and avoid her reliance on Eastern European Bear fuel. Selling Europe pipeline dreams has kept states like Nigeria and Libya in a vulnerable position and very much at the mercy of the European market.As history repeatedly reveals, the one resource reliance has often stung nations. From Chilean minerals, to European wine lakes and butter mountains to the recent stagnation of the Australian iron sands and Russian gas markets. The fluctuating nature of the goods markets can deal a devastating blow to ill prepared African economies. And as these resources require expertise and specialised extracting mechanisms, the bulkwark of this capital goes back to the foreign driller or excavator. Even the Chinese frenzy for fuel has lead contractors to embrace the Western idea of seeing Africa as an easily manipulable meal ticket to fast fortune. Intriguingly, due to its own historic connection with the Black Passage and slave trading, America has sought to avoid giving a response to anything African related in a political effort to avert striking a sensitive nerve with its own domestic black population many who live in squalid decay and have a troubling relationship with the law, law enforcers and “White” house hegemony. If Wikileaks has proven one thing it’s the revelation of the burgeoning fear of the rise of Other and the race for resources. In regards to that, Africa has morphed into a raw materials kind of conflict of interest zone. A type of AnthroAntarctica accessible, with an abundance of cheap labour and systems where corruption and anarchy reigns throughout the hierarchy layer cake of bureaucracy. It seems as if the monopolwer wants to retain the right to the monopoly. Apparently, American exceptionalism and the lingering odour of the rankly vulgar notion of manifest destiny means that Yankee Doodle Dandee can be quite a sour grape when it comes to playing with the world’s toybox. But, how can we critique the offspring of Europe when the parenting was defunct and defective from the start. In Europe, the dark skinned fare little better often experiencing the worst health rates, living in poverty, are part of the high crime rates statistics and have fewer abilities at social mobility and economic elevation. It’s not a black thing its a social condition thing which does not favour one especially if you are black. If the British and French loved germinating the world with their own seed they have taken every venture conceivable to root out the African weed back in the Motherland. And yet, in parts of Africa the invasive European legacy will not subside as the Spanish cities of Cueta and Melilla would have us believe. Still If you can’t obtain the land then you can always play chummy with the landlord. Ah those African leaders wth European lifestyles, cribs, cars, clubs and cash like Obiang of Equatorial Guinea. Conquering Africa through it’s Neanderthal leaders, how’s that for tact and chicanery? And while these buffoons live it up on non renewables the African and his fellows further sink into the mire of dystopia and degeneration. The sparse good Samaritans there faced with muck, despair and rage. Facing logistical and communicatory limitations in countries with substantial populations and enormously impenetrable scope. YES, ebola is another bad for Africa but it is just the tip of a colossal ice berg which infests the birthplace of mankind. War camps swelling, sexual disease in rape ruled lands, climate change, drought, pestilence and that most dangerous of creatures the mosquito and tsetse fly. For malaria like war is still the Jack the Ripper of Africa and global warming will only intensify this concern. Yet perhaps the biggest problem is the lack of investment afforded to the women of Africa. The inability to obtain education, to express themselves and to not have their sexuality brutalised by ignorant practices such as the mutilation of their genitalia. If sanitation, access to clean water, fresh food and sound shelter and important amenities were available what a difference this would make for the precious mothers and daughters of the new Africa. What if a woman could lead an African state? Given the incompetency of it’s patriarchal past and their epic failures it might just be what the doctor ordered.One need only look at the valuable stabilising roles played by leaders such as Park Geun Hye in South Korea, the late Helen Clark of NZ or Johanna Sigurdardottir who took helm of Iceland after the world rocking financial crisis (she was also the first openly lesbian leader at that). The Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, the tribal onslaught in Rwanda, Mugabe’s economically crippling regime, the shambles that is the post Belgian Congo where Joseph Conrad’s aptly title work the Heart of Darkness was set, the tyranny of Idi Amin, blood diamonding in the Western exslave nations, Child soldiers, crude contesting, refugee camps and border beltings, even South Africa’s post Mandela loss of reformative and progressive traction and momentum. Might they have been averted with the help from an ‘African’ Wonder Woman? I can’t imagine that a matriarchal figurehead would not have at least attempted to iron out some of these creases from the African bed sheet. But, as a Westerner, that’s just another con in a very long list of negatives which I have just contributed the pejorative tirade against Africa. The ebola outbreak is indeed African in birth but it is one problem which has sprung out from several other pressing issues. If anything, it reflects our fears here in the West of a hellish continent which we had an instrumental role in destroying, diseasing and then departing. If the West wants to stem this concern while showing some moral fibre and conviction it should be through working with Africans rather than running away from them. The sounds of news from Africa may not always play a tune we here in the West like to hear, but it is still our duty to aid a neighbour when one is in need.

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