Ebola should be isolated, not entire countries, say Ghanaian students concerned about stigmatisation.
Members of the University of Buckingham’s Ghanaian Society contributed the following article:
Ebola has a far more serious economic impact on the world economy than it is credited for.
Africa is most noted for its vast natural resources.
The impact is most devastating in its worst-affected areas, specifically Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Arcelor Mittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, halted its iron ore expansion in Liberia due to its contractors invoking force majeure and leaving the country.
Vale, the world’s largest iron ore producer, withdrew six international staff and asked the rest of the workers to leave its base in Simandou Guinea, which is Africa’s largest iron ore mine.
These withdrawals have a far-reaching economic impact.
Sierra Leone and Liberia were ranked second and sixth respectively as the countries with the fastest growing GDP IN 2013.
The IMF predicted a further growth of 5.9 per cent GDP in Liberia and revised it to 2.5 per cent,
However, Amara Konneh, the country’s finance minister, stated this is no longer possible due to the decrease in productivity and departure of foreign workers as a result of the virus.
Sierra Leone and Liberia recently came out of civil wars. This fall in their economic climate could have a far more transcending impact to include both political and social effects.
Despite 49 out of 54 African countries being declared free of the virus, multinational corporations, corporate events and airlines have significantly declined their activities in the entire continent due to the virus.
Canada and Australia have suspended visas for citizens from ebola countries.
According to the Canadian health minister, Rona Ambrose, the number one priority is to protect Canadians.
This ebola stigmatisation has seen an impact in the global economic market.
On October 15, after the CDC announced an ebola-infected nurse could have infected up to 300 people, the Dow Jones dropped by 370 points.
On October 22, the VIX dropped by 11 per cent following the CDC announcement that the 43 people who came in contact with the first ebola patient were free of the virus. Due to the stigmatisation of people from both infected and uninfected countries, most farmers have abandoned their farms due to fear of contracting the virus.
This has had an effect on the economy of these countries, since agriculture is the backbone of most African economies.
The World Bank reported an increase in tourism from 6.7 million in 1992 to 33.8 million in 2012, contributing 22.5 billion to the continent’s income.
Stigmatisation has affected this tourism industry and will continue to do so if it carries on.
Due to the suspension for 21 days of students and workers in America for travelling to Africa, people will generally refrain from visiting this famous tourist destination due to the hustle they have to face on arriving home.
According to the World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, the fear of contracting the virus could cause about 80 per cent economic impact since the labour force has declined significantly due to the fear of contracting the virus.
He stated further that the economic cost of ebola to West Africa could be up to £20.2 billion by the end of 2015.
A West African market in Staten Island, USA, has seen its 22 vendors decrease to five because they are now shunned and taunted.
One person was yelled at, saying: “African go back Africa with your Ebola”.
The stigmatisation and its impact due to the ebola virus obviously has an effect, crossing the borders of Africa into the world economy.
Africa is not a country – it is made up of 54 independent states, only three of which are high-risk ebola states.
The World Health Organisation has declared Nigeria ebola free and this signifies that ebola can be eradicated from the African continent.
The stigmatisation of African states and their citizens as a whole is both economically and socially detrimental.
Isolate ebola – not countries.