CAPITALISM AND THE SPREAD OF MONKEYPOX
By Divine Okwudei
There is a growing belief that capitalism is responsible for most improvements in the healthcare system that have occurred over the last century, but the said improvements have come at a cost. A cost that the ordinary working class cannot afford. And most importantly is that capitalism with its constant quest for profit at the expense of the needs of the people continues to degrade the environment breeding diseases harmful to human survival.
The contagious infection of the corona virus pandemic worldwide in itself an indication of the safe state of the globe under a capitalist dominated world economy exposing the rot and decay of healthcare system worldwide. While the government claimed to have spent huge resources to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, a greater portion of those resources ended in the hands of private profiteers. A current United State Senator, Bernie Sanders tweeted on his Twitter handle $2.5 billion in federal funding went to Moderna. The companys CEO then received a $926 million golden parachute, three of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in America, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie increased their profits by 90% to $54 billion while half of the new brand name drugs now cost over $180,000.
The various reports of the growing number of monkeypox outbreaks are unprecedented and growing at such a rate that the healthcare system under capitalism could be put to the test again in Africa. Nigeria where health workers have continued to call on the government to improve funding to the health sector will further be challenged at the expense of human lives that could have been easily saved, the health sector is not so neglected by the government. Since the first reported case of monkeypox infection in the United Kingdom on May 7, 2022, by a British citizen that returned from Nigeria, more and more confirmed cases are been reported in other parts of the world.
Human-infected monkeypox outbreaks that started at a low point, mainly around the Congo Basin, are now gradually increasing and becoming a critical health surge that required a holistic approach to deal with. Many cases are being reported in many other parts of the world such as in Australia, Europe, the UAE and the US.
Government responses to cob spread of diseases in the country are so pathetic most cases are left to NGOs and in the hands of private individuals. Government intervention without the collective interest in the welfare of the countrymen cannot be trusted to bring the rising rate of monkeypox in Nigeria under control. A good example is the government’s poor response to the Lassa fever that has continued to infect people in the country over the years. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in its April report have it that, from week 1 to week 12, 2022, 127 deaths have been reported with a case fatality rate of 18.6%. With poor funding in the health sector and a poor waste management system, the end of the spread of this disease is not near.
Other affected areas of monkey pox disease include Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. The infection showed ostensibly low human-to-human transmission, not dissipating much beyond each animal-to-human hop. However, the actual order of the previous transmission is obscure, and obvious belief in it can be misled.
In a country with no public and hygienic water system, not most of the cases of monkeypox may have been further complicated. Poor sanitation facilities meant that cases could have persisted without treatment or been mistaken for other rash-causing diseases, such as chickenpox (which is entirely different from monkeypox). As a discovery, our awareness of monkeypox is relatively fragmented outside of the insights offered by its importation into wealthier countries with better healthcare networks.
A meaningful example of this lack of transparency is that reports show an increase in the number of cases from the more deadly and transmissible genetic line of Congo Basin monkeypox virus than from the less deadly East African strain. Until 2019, aphid outbreaks did not require mandatory notification to the World Health Organization through its Integrated Disease Surveillance Response Publications Network, except for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has set up its network with mandatory notice.
As a result, many cases in the West African clan may be underestimated. The eventual discovery of this smallpox epidemic will be a pattern commonly seen in communicable diseases: while some wealthy countries that have devoted resources to the health sector will be able to curb their epidemics and provide priority access to smallpox vaccine capital. Meanwhile, most African countries including Nigeria will struggle to detect imported cases, implement a ring vaccination policy, or purchase vaccines. The capitalist ruling elites will simply position themselves to make super-profits from the purchase of kits and vaccines as this disease spread.
In Nigeria today, apart from the ethnoreligious crisis, accidents, and crimes that take lives daily, illnesses and health problems represent one of the biggest threats to the safety and well-being of Nigerians. Public hospitals have been neglected by successive governments in line with the world-leading capitalist organizations IMF and World Bank and their social spending cut policies, leaving the poor and those unable to pay for expensive private healthcare to die. This has led to a sad situation where poor Nigerians with curable diseases are dying prematurely because they cannot afford the cost of medical care and treatment abroad. Despite its enormous resources, Nigeria has one of the worst cases of maternal and child mortality in the world.
It is only a democratic government led by the working class and the oppressed people armed with a socialist program that can bring about the reorganization of society for the creation of a better society for the people. Such a government will take over the commanding sector of the economy from private hands to directly make available credit for the creation of infrastructures that will aid social transformation and give headway to the healthcare system in Nigeria.