Thursday, May 7, 2015

‘UBUNTU’ means Africa must take the lead when dealing with Ebola

The concept of ‘Ubuntu’ should be applied to the ethical treatment of Ebola - and other neglected tropical diseases – in order to change the way that African countries respond to the disease. This is according to Professor Thaddeus Metz, Humanities Research Professor, University of Johannesburg.



Prof Metz interprets the word ‘Ubuntu’ – which means humanity to others - as requiring ‘honour for other people in communal relationships’ and ‘sharing a way of life’. He was speaking at a packed session of the Ethics, Human Rights and Medical Law conference on the third day of the 5th annual Africa Health Exhibition & Congress, which took place from 5 to 7 May at the Gallagher Convention Centre.











Prof Metz said, “Roughly speaking, at the core of Ubuntu is the need to act in a loving way and, in this perspective, wrong behaviour is unloving. I think an Ubuntu ethic recommends that Africans must take the lead when responding to tropical African diseases. I’m afraid the African Union did not do this with Ebola.”







The recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the largest Ebola outbreak in history, having infected over 26 000 people and killing around 11 000 of those infected with the virus.







Prof Metz said, “Compare the $1 million given by the African Union (AU) for the treatment of the Ebola outbreak with the $1 billion that was given by Western institutions. Also consider the fact that the AU took action only after the World Health Organisation had declared Ebola a global public health emergency.      ‘UBUNTU’ means Africa must take the lead when dealing with Ebola

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