The Politics of Disease Epidemics: a Comparative Analysis of the SARS, Zika, and Ebola Outbreaks Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Over the past few decades, disease outbreaks have become increasingly frequent and widespread. The epicenters of these outbreaks have differed, and could be linked to different economic contexts. Arguably, the responses to these outbreaks have been "political" and inherently burdensome to marginalized populations. Key lessons can be learned from exploring the narratives about the different epidemics in varying income settings. Based on a review of the published medical, social, and political literature, which was accessed using four electronic databases-PubMed, Sociological Abstracts, Scholars Portal, and Web of Science, the overall objective of this paper discuss scholars' narratives on the "politics" of Ebola in a low-income setting, Zika virus in a middle-income setting, and SARS in a high-income setting. Various themes of the politics of epidemics were prominent in the literature. The narratives demonstrated the influence of power in whose narratives and what narratives are presented in the literature. While marginalized populations were reported to have borne the brunt of all disease outbreaks in the different contexts, the prevalence of their narratives within the reviewed literature was limited. Regardless of income setting, there is a need to give voice to the most marginalized communities during an epidemic. The experiences and narratives of those most vulnerable to an epidemic-specifically poor communities-need to be represented in the literature. This could contribute to mitigating some of the negative impact of the politics in epidemics.

publication date

  • March 2020