Zika Virus: the Bite of Torment

The Zika Virus is a mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947, within caged rhesus monkeys placed in the Zika Forest to monitor yellow fever. It was first reported in humans in 1952 in Uganda, and its first large outbreak was in 2007 in the Island of Yap.

Although this virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito (mainly the Aedes mosquitos), sexual transmission and transmission through blood transfusion is possible as well.

One of the biggest problems in tackling the Zika Virus is that its symptoms are common to most viruses. These symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Furthermore, only one out of five people show symptoms, which leads to many cases going unreported.

The virus is rather mild itself, as symptoms last 3-5 days, but it can trigger many defects like Microcephaly and the Guillain-Barre Syndrome. A woman can transfer the Zika Virus to her fetus during pregnancy, which can cause Microcephaly, a birth defect wherein a baby is born with a head smaller than the average size. Microcephaly can lead to seizures, developmental delays, hearing loss and vision problems. Similarly, the Zika Virus can trigger the Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which is an auto-immune disease wherein a person’s own immune system damages his nerve cells. Most people never fully recover from this syndrome, and some are left with permanent nerve damage. The Zika Virus can thus lead to very dangerous illnesses and must be prevented and treated accordingly.

However, there currently exists no specific vaccine or medicine for the virus, and its only treatment is treating the discomfort-causing symptoms, which can be remedied by drinking plenty of fluids, getting adequate rest and taking medicines like paracetamol to relieve fever and pain. Since the virus has no real cure, we must focus on its prevention.

The first step towards its prevention is the reduction of mosquitos by removing or modifying breeding sites. Many people disagree with this, arguing that the process is complex and is not the most feasible option. However, given the seriousness of the Zika Virus, the WHO stresses that the elimination of mosquito breeding sites is the most effective intervention for protection against the same. Furthermore, ‘Fogging’ (the spraying of insecticides) should be carried out during outbreaks, when mosquito activity is most intense. Personal precautions should be taken, including the use of repellents and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitos from entering. Pregnancy measures should also be taken in areas with active transmissions of the virus to prevent sexual transmission. More preventive measures for the same include strengthening the capacity of laboratories to detect the virus, supporting health authorities to implement vector control strategies and engaging communities to understand the risks associated with the virus.

In May, 2017, three laboratory-confirmed cases of the Zika Virus were reported in Gujarat, India. It is clear that the virus is spreading across the globe and must be combated effectively, especially because of the severity of its complications. In a world that has already been through so much turmoil, we cannot risk another epidemic.


Ebola Virus: The Killing Machine

Ebola virus is said to have originated from fruit bats and other forms of bushmeat. This virus enters the human population through close contact with the blood, organs or surface material of infected animals often found ill or dead in the forest (or of those that are hunted). It then spreads through humans by direct contact with the secretions of those who are infected, or through materials like bedding contaminated with the same. Even burial ceremonies of the deceased can lead to the transmission of Ebola, because people remain infectious as long as their blood contains the virus. Healthcare workers have also frequently been infected while treating Ebola patients due to being in close contact with them.
The Ebola virus first appeared in 1976. It is most commonly known for its recent 2014-2016 outbreak affecting Guinea, Libera, and Sierra Leone that reported more than 11,000 deaths.
The World Health Organisation led the trial for an experimental Ebola vaccine in 2015. This vaccine proved highly protective against the virus in its trial in Guinea. Unfortunately, there currently exists no proven cure for the virus. However, treating the symptoms of Ebola separately has proved to be effective in combating the same. An efficient way to combat it once it has entered the blood cells is through supportive care rehydration. Furthermore, community engagement is vital, including infection control practices, surveillance, contact tracing, safe burials and social mobilisation.
Risk-minimisation should also be followed. Animals should be handled with gloves and should be properly cooked before consumption to minimise the risk of transmitting the disease. Healthcare workers should wear gloves and appropriate body equipment while dealing with suspected patients, and should also wash their hands regularly with soap.
Moreover, laboratory testing on active samples should be conducted under intense biological containment conditions, using the triple packaging system while transporting the virus.
Ebola virus is extremely serious and deadly. It has killed thousands of people, and is capable of killing thousands more – which is why it is imperative to find its cure. In a world that is already in so much turmoil, adequate measures must be taken to prevent its spread across the globe.

Security Dilemma

The Security Dilemma is a serious problem that affects all states, whether they are aggressive or not. This means that there are multiple ways to solve this problem, but no one way is foolproof, and each one has its flaws. Opening up diplomatic communications through a trusted third party and creating an economic and trade union are probably the safest ways for countries to help decrease the severity of the Security Dilemma. This would be most easily done between two powers, and could lead to not only a safer future for both, but also mutual prosperity through trade.

This process would most likely begin with opening a diplomatic dialogue between two countries through a mutually trusted third party. This would allow safe communication, confidentiality and reliability. Next, both countries would agree to disarmament processes, mutual targets and verification, all while using the third party to keep the communication peaceful and mutually beneficial. Finally, the countries could, depending on their current membership, agree to work together in a common economic and trade union. This would further facilitate peaceful actions and could potentially create prosperity for the respective countries. It would also allow for the free movement of people, goods and services between the nations, creating a peaceful environment. Opposing states could work together to cooperate and compete in a global environment. The creation of trade unions has been very beneficial for the majority of its members in the past, as shown in unions such as the European Union and ASEAN. The reason this method would be effective is because not only does it promote better international communications between each nation-state, removing the ‘fence’ that conceals its neighbours, but also guarantees peace and protection to the nations that sign this agreement. This is important because with lack of communication, nation-states always end up fearing their neighbouring states, leading them to stock up on weapons, which can result in a huge arms race.

All this said, however, there are still some limitations to what this could achieve, similar to any possible ‘solution’ to this dilemma. The main drawback to this kind of solution is that both parties would have to be willing to work together toward a common goal. This can be a problem because some countries are militaristic in nature, due to their Government, and will not agree to disarmament or working together in a trade union. These countries, however, are relatively lesser in number, and the benefits of this system far outweigh the negatives.


The Effect of China’s Rise on the U.S.A

I think that the rise of China is very beneficial for the United States of America, as well as the rest of the world.

The US-China economic alliance is an extremely strong one. The United States absorbs around 1/5th of all Chinese exports. Although China has seen a remarkable 3 decades of economic growth, we must remember that its sheer size – 1.35 billion people or 1/5th of the world population – is what has made it the world’s second largest economy. China represents an underprivileged market that can be beneficial for both the USA and other part of the world.

Out of the various liberal assumptions, I would like to stress upon the second and fourth; the second being “Cooperation is possible in international relations because of international institutions, democracy, and commerce”, and the fourth being “Actors’ main interests include self-protection and economic goals.”

Focusing on the second liberal assumption, it isn’t hard to see that China’s growth would inevitably benefit the USA. Currently, the Chinese hold almost 8% of total US debt. They have lent the United States 1.3 trillion dollars. This gives them a big advantage over America – many realists argue that this puts them in a position to ‘wage war’; however, that is untrue. China is not going to wage war – not only because the drawbacks of war outweigh the benefits, but also because harming the American economy would harm themselves, what with the US absorbing 1/5th of all Chinese exports. However, if China were to grow, it would greatly benefit the United States, as it is China’s third largest export market. Also, while some would say China plotted and schemed to get the US into debt, I believe that is untrue. Liberals believe that human nature has a better side – as do I. Trade with China has helped America recover from the global financial crisis. Moreover, China is rapidly advancing in the field of science and technology. Along with the economic relationships, there’s potential for security cooperation and even the possibility of working together to deal with disease, resource scarcity and climate change.

Another point prevailing under this assumption is that China belongs to many cooperative organisations, like the UNSC and APEC. Through China’s participation in such organisations, the encouragement of cooperation ensues, ensuring all participants are awarded a share of winnings, meaning that they are less likely to engage in conflict with one another. Furthermore, China and America have a common goal – economic prosperity.

The fourth liberal assumption states that States prioritise self-interest and economic goals. In this case, China’s economic goal would require US cooperation. Yes, some say that the power achieved from defeating a super-power is incomparable – this may be true, but the power won’t last if China’s economy comes crashing down alongside the US. The last thing China would want is conflict to distract it from all the money-making. Furthermore, with a fall in the Chinese economy, many (and I mean MANY) states will suffer. “German car makers, Australian mines and Bordeaux vineyards have all enjoyed a China-fuelled boom. China’s rise offers boundless opportunities.” America and China have a very economically stable relationship, with their economies strongly tied together, and thus China’s economic growth would also benefit the USA. Liberals believe that human nature has a better side – and two unlikely super-powers cooperating with each other for economic prosperity is a big example for the rest of the world.

As Glasser says, we need to stop exaggerating China’s “rise” and making it seem like a threat. China is just like any other nation-state, after all, and will naturally put its self-interests first – and believe it or not, not “waging war” on 1/5th of its consumers is in Chinese self-interest.

To conclude, in my opinion, the seeming rise of China is definitely beneficial for the USA and the rest of the world, and with the use of the policies of engagement, binding and forming alliances, I believe that the US-China economic interdependency and it’s benefits can remain intact; furthermore, with America being the world’s largest super-power, I see China’s growth not as a threat, but as an advantage.