I’m not sure which is more horrifying: that tens of thousands are dead and dying from Ebola in Africa, or or that it appears that it was largely preventable with basic medical technology.
William Gibson’s quip about the future not yet being evenly distributed takes on a much darker undertone in this light.
Despite the rabid panic sweeping America now, Ebola is surprisingly treatable. As of this writing, every single person treated in America with 1) early diagnosis and 2) quality care has fully recovered. I understand that this requires delivering up to 20 liters/day of hydration to patients, which is difficult to manage even with a conventional IV. There are several vaccines and antivirals on the fast-track approval process, but everything I’ve seen indicates that just keeping organ systems from shutting down, and in some cases physically delivering antibodies to the bloodstream, is the most effective treatment. Different strains of the virus may respond differently, and yet it saddens me beyond words that even something as basic as medical technology is lacking in so much of the world.
The point: to a significant extent, technology is a management problem, and we, humanity, are terrible at it. Maybe that’s why this idea surfaces so often in my writing.