The United States has announced its elaborate response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa with plans to build 17 treatment centers, train thousands of healthcare workers and establish a military control center for coordination.
President Barack Obama called the epidemic “a national security crisis,” after facing much criticism for not doing more to stem the outbreak.
Although the entire Ebola situation may appear terrifying – it has killed more than 2,400 people out of 4,784 cases in West Africa, according to World Health Organization – many health experts maintain there are diseases far more dangerous.
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Ebola’s episodic outbreaks are sensationalized by the media, the government and non-governmental organizations seeking funding. And it just doesn’t make any sense when there are other maladies that cause far more deaths in Africa and other regions.
While HIV/AIDS is a well-documented disease, here are a few other lesser-known examples:
Health experts, more often than not, put influenza on the top of their lists when talking about diseases scarier than Ebola.
Influenza kills approximately 500,000 people every year. It means in the course of almost 38 years, Ebola killed fewer than 2,000 people while flu has claimed almost 19 million lives.
Measles is one of the leading causes of death among children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available, according to the WHO.
“The measles death toll in Africa is so high – every minute one child dies – that many mothers don't give children real names until they have survived the disease.”
At least 40 percent of the world's population, or about 2.5 billion people, are at risk of serious illness and death from mosquito-borne viral diseases, according to the CDC.
In 2012, 90 percent of all malaria deaths occurred in Africa, mostly among children under 5 years of age, states WHO.
Around 5,000 people die from tuberculosis every day, although it is curable.
Sub-Saharan Africa carries the greatest proportion of new cases per population, according to WHO, with over 255 cases per 100,000 population in 2012.
Diarrhea, a preventable and treatable condition, is the second leading cause of death among children under 5 in the world.
It kills about 1.5 million children each year – an amount more than malaria, AIDS and measles combined. In Africa, it’s responsible for around 8 percent of all deaths in the country.
James Ball, a data journalist working for the Guardian investigations team, wrote that the most real effect for millions of people reading about Ebola will be fear and stigma – thanks to the hyped-up media coverage.
“During the SARS outbreak of 2003, Asian-Americans became the targets of just that, with public health hotlines inundated with calls from Americans worried about 'buying Asian merchandise,' 'living near Asians,' 'going to school with Asians,' and more,” Ball stated.
“In the coming months, almost none of us will catch the Ebola virus. Many of us, though, will get fevers, headaches, shivers and more.