Why Ebola is hitting people in Africa hard

Woman preparing meat Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption This small African restaurant has changed what kind of meat it serves to help stop the spread of Ebola

A review of the best commentary on and around the world...

Today's must-read

Ebola is still in the headlines - and is now in the US. The disease has been wreaking havoc in countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia, and an Atlanta hospital began treating the first case of Ebola in the US this week.

The patient is a doctor who had been providing medical care in Africa; he has shown signs of improvement since his arrival in the US. A second US aid worker is set to be flown from Africa shortly, while a local ABC affiliate in New York City reports a possible case of Ebola at Mount Sinai hospital.

Most health experts agree that an outbreak in the US would be quickly managed, Vox's Stephen Hoffman and Julia Belluz say the disease is taking such a toll in Africa, however, because the global medical and research communities are not designed to treat diseases that affect the poor.

"Right now, more money goes into fighting baldness and erectile dysfunction than hemorrhagic fevers like dengue or Ebola," they write.

Most medical innovation is left to the private sector, which is profit-driven, they write, while aid organisations devoted to public health devote little of their budgets to research and development.

Government funding for diseases like Ebola are mostly doled out by the Department of Defense, and only if the disease has a threat of being weaponised.

"The result of this architecture of investments is that most health products that hit the market don't focus on sicknesses of the poor. Of the 850 health products approved by regulators between 2000 and 2011, only 37 focused on neglected diseases," they write.

"As long as we perpetuate this global system of R&D funding, outbreaks of neglected diseases like Ebola will keep happening. Sadly, it's a cause shared by many more diseases of the poor, some of which affect multiple times more people than the one that's currently making headlines."


Detainee denied - The Canadian government will not let a Toronto Star reporter interview a former child solider and Canadian citizen who was detained at Guantanamo Bay in 2002, according to the New York Times' editorial board.

"The Toronto Star thinks he should be allowed to tell his side of the story and respond to questions from one of its reporters, Michelle Shephard, who has been following his case for years," the editorial board writes.

But the Canadian government won't let the Toronto Star conduct an on-camera interview with Omar Khadr because doing so could cause trouble within the Canadian prison where Khadr is now detained. That's a mistake, says the Times.

"The Canadian government should allow the interview and let Mr Khadr, now an adult, share his perspective on his ordeal. The public has been kept waiting long enough," they write.


Departing diplomacy - Several Latin American countries are pulling their ambassadors out of Israel for consultation, according to the GlobalPost's Simeon Tegel, Alex Leff and Noga Tarnopolsky. It's a move designed to show the country's disapproval of Israel actions in Gaza prior to the latest ceasefire.

"Recalling an ambassador for consultation falls short of breaking off relations outright, but it can lead to that," Tegel, Leff and Tarnopolsky write.

So far, Chile, Peru, El Salvador, Ecuador and Brazil have pulled their ambassadors out of Israel, the authors say. Many other Latin American countries, such as Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela, do not currently have ambassadors in Israel, they add.

Some Latin American leaders say the recall is because of "foreign and domestic policies," while others are condemning Israeli forces for its "bombardment of Palestinian civilians."


Should America cut its losses? - The US should move on from efforts to improve its relationship with India because the country doesn't have much to offer it, according to the Daily Beast's Tunku Varadarajan.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modii has offered little proof that he is the one who will improve the status of business in his country. That should be a deal breaker for the US, says Varadarajan.

"American private enterprise has always tread cautiously in India, and there is every indication that it will have to continue to tiptoe its way through, around, and over the cactus grove of Indian regulations," he writes.

Until India makes up its mind as to what they want their country to be, the US should discontinue efforts to build a relationship with the country, concludes Varadarajan.


Fighting rural flight - Japan's population is declining in rural areas, but some Japanese are creating possible solutions, according to the National Interest's John W Traphagan.

"While the challenges are significant, there are also a variety of innovative programmess being developed to help people cope and, perhaps, even keep younger members of the population from moving to the cities," writes Traphagan.

For instance, Panorama Farms is a new business that helps rice farmers with high industry costs and provides labour, says Traphagan.

"Panorama Farms hopes that by using organic techniques, their products will appeal to Japanese consumers and also provide a more sustainable approach to farming in the long run," he writes.

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Russian commentators implicate the West in violence that broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, in recent days. Some that the conflict's escalation is in the interests of the West, which is unhappy about Armenia joining Russian President Vladimir Putin's integration project, the Eurasian Economic Union, in October.

"Since Yerevan set a course for Eurasian Economic Union membership, it has come under systemic pressure from the West - and the rising tension over Nagornyy Karabakh is a component of these systemic efforts, especially since public blame will be shifted to Moscow." - South Caucasus expert Andrey Areshev in Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

"It would be advantageous for the West to portray Armenia as the weak link in Eurasian integration." - Director of the Centre for Political Studies Andrey Fedorov in Kommersant.

"Had this happened six months ago, we could have said confidently that the current escalation would not lead to any more serious bloodshed. But now, unfortunately, given the situation in Ukraine, this cannot be said with confidence." - Carnegie Moscow Centre research fellow Aleksey Malashenko in Novyye Izvestiya,

"I don't rule out the possibility of other conflicts around Russia's perimeter flaring up as well - in the Dniester region, for example - in order to create as difficult a situation as possible for Moscow, so it would have to tackle several 'fronts' at once, with the ring of conflicts around Russia's borders becoming increasingly apparent." - South Caucasus expert Andrey Areshev in Nezavisimaya Gazeta. ‎

Have you found an interesting opinion piece about global issues that we missed? Share it with us via email at echochambers (at) bbc.co.uk.