What can we Learn from the Past Deadly Pandemics

What can we Learn from the Past Deadly Pandemics and Prepare to Curb COVID-19? The Case in Oromia Regional State in Ethiopia

Begna F. Dugassa*

Oromo Studies Association (OSA), Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
*Corresponding author: Begna.Dugassa@gmail.com

Received March 02, 2020; Revised April 10, 2020; Accepted April 19, 2020

Abstract Background: Although biological agents cause pandemics, they require favorable social conditions to spread and cause ill health. Revisiting past epidemics helps to enhance our understanding of the interactions between biological agents and social conditions. Looking closely at the history of epidemics in Oromia is instrumental in understanding the ways the Ethiopian socio-political policies create favorable social conditions for biological agents to spread from place to place and cause enormous suffering. Objective: The primary objective of this paper is to take a close look at the socio-biological conditions in which epidemics spread, identify risky and protective social conditions and learn from the mistakes of past public health interventions and to build upon their strengths. The secondary objective is understanding the complex interactions between biological agents and social conditions and developing prevention strategies to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Methods: Using historical methods, in this paper, I closely looked at different pandemics and illuminated the social processes of the resurgence and transmission of infectious diseases. Conclusions: This longitudinal study reveals two major findings. First, although biological agents cause all pandemics, the social conditions of people either protects or exposes them to infections and reveal social inequality. Second, understanding the biology of disease-causing agents and social conditions for transmission are not adequate to control epidemics. It requires building the social, economic, political, and cultural capitals of Oromo people. Oromo people can strengthen those capitals if their rights to self-determination are respected. If the rights of people to decide on their own social, economic, political, and cultural rights are violated, their public health preparedness is curbed and makes them more vulnerable to pandemics. The struggle of people to guarantee themselves the right to decide on their social, economic, political, and cultural affairs should be seen as the means to build these essential capitals.

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