Tourism plays a significant role in the fast growing Africa’s economic industry, as a developing continent, which has vast mineral resources. Despite the major opportunities and challenges facing the diversification of the travel and tourism industry in Africa, the tourism industry continue to grow until the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic.
Ebola exists in Africa, but the outbreak of the disease in West Africa in March, rapidly spreading across Republic of Guinea, Liberia, Republic of Sierra Leone and Nigeria, has taken health officials by surprise. What is Ebola? According to online ‘Health and Medicine’ news magazine, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is an acute viral illness that used to be known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever. It is caused by three of the five species within the Ebola virus genus.
Two species are capable of infecting humans, but do not seem to cause illness – so you can catch it, but you won’t notice it. The other three can cause variable degrees of illness. Unfortunately, the Zaire Ebola virus is the most deadly strain, and has been identified as the cause of the current outbreak. In previous outbreaks, this strain has had a 90% death rate.
Since the colonial masters lost the grip on Africa, what happens on that continent is never taken seriously, until the situation it is out of control. Whatever happens in Africa, they should always remember that they still depend on that continent for raw materials. Professor John Ashton, the president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, blames the failure to find a vaccine against the Ebola virus on the “moral bankruptcy” of the pharmaceutical industry to invest in a disease, because it has so far only affected people in Africa. “ The West needs to treat the deadly virus as if it were taking hold in the wealthiest parts of London rather than just Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia,” says Professor Ashton.
As a measure to prevent the spread of the disease, many countries have officially banned flights to all affected countries. This ban doesn’t affect other African countries without Ebola, yet many fear to visit Africa at the moment, thus; seriously affecting the tourism industry and business. World health Organization has already warned, since the virus is outpacing efforts to control it.
Quarantine is prevention not cure, with no immediate cure how can the disease be controlled? Until immediate solution is found the only recommended measures to prevent Ebola is, avoiding direct contact with the body fluid of infected person and the body of an Ebola victim who has died.
Health officials taking safety measures to help Ebola patients in Liberia, photo credit: WHO.