Colonialists Are Coming For Blood — Literally

Monday, March 4, 2019

By Maryn McKenna

During the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, medical workers collected hundreds of thousands of samples of blood from victims and those presumed to be infected, in an effort to stem an epidemic that eventually took more than 11,000 lives.

After that outbreak subsided, most of the samples were believed to have been destroyed. But recent reporting by The Telegraph in London revealed that thousands of samples were not destroyed but, rather, shipped out of West Africa. The samples’ location isn’t clear—The Telegraph’s freedom of information request was turned back by the UK government—but they are believed to be in the custody of national health agencies, and possibly pharmaceutical companies, in Western Europe and the United States.

That those samples passed out of the countries where they originated is a scandal in the making, because if they provide the raw material for diagnostics or remedies made by Western companies, those products may be unaffordable to the countries where the samples originated.

Photo courtesy of Montakan Tanchaisawat.

Source: Wired (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
global development, infectious diseases