Climate Change and Health

Part of the series Climate Change Management pp 151-169


The Social and Political Dimensions of the Ebola Response: Global Inequality, Climate Change, and Infectious Disease

  • Harris AliAffiliated withFaculty of Environmental Studies, York University
  • , Barlu DumbuyaAffiliated withDisaster and Emergency Management Program, York University
  • , Michaela HynieAffiliated withYork Institute for Health Research and Department of Psychology, York University
  • , Pablo IdahosaAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, York University
  • , Roger KeilAffiliated withFaculty of Environmental Studies, York University
  • , Patricia PerkinsAffiliated withFaculty of Environmental Studies, York University Email author 

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The 2014 Ebola crisis has highlighted public-health vulnerabilities in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea—countries ravaged by extreme poverty, deforestation and mining-related disruption of livelihoods and ecosystems, and bloody civil wars in the cases of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ebola’s emergence and impact are grounded in the legacy of colonialism and its creation of enduring inequalities within African nations and globally, via neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus. Recent experiences with new and emerging diseases such as SARS and various strains of HN influenzas have demonstrated the effectiveness of a coordinated local and global public health and education-oriented response to contain epidemics. To what extent is international assistance to fight Ebola strengthening local public health and medical capacity in a sustainable way, so that other emerging disease threats, which are accelerating with climate change, may be met successfully? This chapter considers the wide-ranging socio-political, medical, legal and environmental factors that have contributed to the rapid spread of Ebola, with particular emphasis on the politics of the global and public health response and the role of gender, social inequality, colonialism and racism as they relate to the mobilization and establishment of the public health infrastructure required to combat Ebola and other emerging diseases in times of climate change.


Ebola Climate change Health infrastructure Community-based disease prevention Global health initiatives Urbanization Stigmatization