WASHINGTON, November 2, 2014 — Dallas hospital patient Thomas Eric Duncan died from Ebola. He contracted the virus in West Africa and then traveled to the United States, where he later died.
Some pundits say Ebola presents the potential for one of the most deadliest pandemics the United States has ever seen. Other experts question whether Ebola presents any risk at all.
Ebola, or ‘Ebol Haemorrhagic Fever’ is generally fatal if left untreated. However, it is a rare disease and is only contracted through fluids and close contact. Ebola is not an airborne disease.
Although the virus has already claimed thousands of lives, it is by no means the worse virus we have experienced globally. Ebola doesn’t even compare with Malaria, HIV, and other serious diseases that are not generally curable. American patients infected with the Ebola virus have recovered after receiving treatment in the U.S.
So why did Duncan, who was in the United States, die of the disease?
Reports from the medical community suggest the medical care Duncan received was mediocre at best. Compounding the problem was the fact that Duncan did not immediately go to the hospital when he first became ill. When he did go to the hospital, he was sent home and did not return to the hospital until the symptoms worsened. When he did enter the hospital, he did not receive the same treatment as the American health care workers who survived received. According to the Dallas hospital that treated Duncan, he did not even receive the blood transfusion other survivors received.
One underlying cause for the lack of treatment and for Duncan’s initial reluctance to go to the hospital may have been because he did not have health care and he did not have financial resources to pay for treatment. If Duncan had either health insurance or financial resources, his treatment may have been substantially different. He likely would have sought medical treatment earlier. The hospital likely would have responded to Duncan’s initial visit differently if he had either health insurance or money, and his subsequent treatment would likely have been more thorough.
Millions of Americans still have no health insurance and, therefore, have little access to quality health care. If all Americans had health coverage, they could seek medical assistance to deal with any infection or disease they contract. This limits the spread of disease in the United States and ensures proper treatment for those who are sick.
Ebola is only deadly when people lack the resources to defeat it. With proper health care, people can survive the disease. Ebola is dangerous, but so is heart disease, Scarlet Fever, a burst appendix, and many other maladies if left untreated.
The real problem with Ebola is not the virus, but lack of care to combat it. The access, or lack of access, rests on insurance coverage and financial resources.
If Duncan had the ability to afford quality health coverage in Texas, maybe he would still be alive today.