Committee: World Health Organization
School: Williamston High School
Since 1976, the global community has struggled with diagnosing, containing, and treating ebola virus. Originating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it has plagued Central and Western Africa for years. Because the virus is easily transmitted, cases have spread from the original source to Europe and even the Americas. These outbreaks have only been made worse by cultural misunderstandings between doctors, patients, and their families. Because Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids, many African burial rituals which involve everyone touching the body facilitate the transmission of the virus. In consequence, many people in this region also have a mistrust of doctors which makes diagnosing the illness much more difficult. While the United Nations has attempted to reduce the casualties of ebola, including an emergency medical mission in 2014 during the worst outbreak in West Africa, treatments for the virus are limited and usually include simply treating symptoms as they arise. However, there is progress being made by the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s National Institute for Biomedical Research who in 2018 moved into phase two of their trial of a new ebola treatment.
While there have been no recorded cases of ebola in Afghanistan, the nation has been listed as being susceptible to an outbreak of the disease because of the non-existent health care system. In Afghanistan, the amount spent per person, per year on health care is about 10.71 dollars, which pales in comparison to the average 4,000 dollars spent in the United States. Additionally, in the early 2000s, Afghanistan had an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever with conditions similar to ebola. The nation, cooperated with WHO as well as various non-governmental organizations to successfully contain the 25 cases that had already occurred. While Ebola has not had any huge impact on the nation, Afghanistan also recognizes that it has had devastating effects on its neighbors and that the time has come to wholeheartedly address the issue.
Afghanistan believes that the keys to addressing the issue of ebola are, education, research, and infrastructure. First, in order to better contain epidemics, it is crucial for people in the most affected areas to understand how ebola spreads, and how they can stop it. To do, Afghanistan suggests using NGOs and international culture experts to hold health seminars at schools and places of work about the symptoms of ebola and how to protect oneself from it. While education is incredibly important, Afghanistan also recognizes the importance of respect for cultural practices which is why working with people who are experts on the culture will allow for the best transmission of information. Second, Afghanistan highly encourages funding from NGOs and willing countries to be put towards research into treatments, vaccines, and cures for ebola. Specifically, the nation of Afghanistan would like to explore the idea of mutating bacteriophages for the purpose of mutating the ebola virus into being dormant or self-destructive. Lastly, Afghanistan is alarmed by the lack of healthcare and health infrastructure in some countries, putting them at a much higher risk for epidemics of all kinds. While Afghanistan knows this is a tall order, the nation calls for the development of a basic health care system in countries such as Haiti, Somalia, Yemen, Niger, and Chad. This program would include biannual doctors checkups for adults, and yearly checkups for youth under 5 years; sponsored medical and nursing education programs; repurposing current structures into emergency rooms; and lastly, converting some of these structures into ebola specific treatment centers. These basic healthcare programs along with regular disease screening and education of proper quarantine methods at national borders, will help stop epidemics of ebola before they have started. Afghanistan looks forward to working with fellow Middle Eastern countries as well as those countries with struggling healthcare systems such as Chad and Niger.
- Emma Ellefson-Frank