Following Decades of Unrest, Ebola Ravages West Africa’s Poorest Nations

By Ena Cefo

The Ebola health crisis has struck some of West Africa’s poorest countries - Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, which are still recovering from decades of political instability and violence. The over 2,400 deaths in the region and a near-collapse of the health care systems in the countries, is a block to the governments’ attempts to improve their domestic human rights conditions. Human Rights Watch has criticized the West African governments for inadequate efforts to provide protections to health workers, arbitrary quarantine orders, excessive use of force by the security forces responding to the health crisis, and inadequate education of women, who are most vulnerable to the disease as a result of their societal roles. While the final responsibility for theses issues lies with the West African governments, the political and economic conditions within the countries call for further international assistance to assure the right to health in the struggling nations.