Eritrea, northern Nigeria, and most recently Sierra Leone. Meningitis, lead poisoning and Ebola. My narrow experience of the three outbreaks—meningitis, lead poisoning and Ebola—demonstrates how poverty kills. Outbreaks flourish where there is insufficient investment in essential public health services, where poverty is the norm, where global neoliberalism sacrifices community health on the altar of free market capitalism.
Ebola preys upon our darkest imaginations—in part because it evokes otherness and its close companion, fear. Fear of Ebola is also linked to its mundaneness. Ebola can be transmitted via the ordinary, daily actions of offering affection or even by brief contact that involves the transmission of bodily fluids. Paradoxically, direct human connection both spreads the disease and is essential to its containment. Perhaps one of the most important lessons of the Ebola crisis is the absolute importance of human connection for security and as part of humanitarian response.