Swine Flu – Get some perspective!

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After watching extensive coverage on the BBC before leaving for work this morning, then picking up a paper on the tube full of swine flu related headlines, I just felt that I had to give my opinion on this media hype.  

The World Health Organisation tells us that every hour, 49 people are diagnosed with, and 7 people die of TB

Around 2 million people die every year of aids , and a fifth of this number are young people. 

Billions of people world-wide die from preventable water related diseases like cholera.

And perhaps the most shocking statistic I have read is that 2 million children die of diarrhea each year

So why don’t we bat an eyelid about these statistics, but a couple of ‘westerners’ get a bit poorly with swine flu and suddenly its a ‘crisis’.  Someone sneezing on the tube is regarded with suspicion. 

Is it because the majority of these deaths occur in the third world it doesn’t matter to us?   Or is it because Mexico is a popular tourist destination that it suddenly makes it ‘real’ to us (How many of us go to Ethiopia for our holidays?). 

Are the deaths of a handful of people in the first world somehow meant to mean more than the deaths of millions in the developing world from totally preventable diseases? 

I was at an event last year where I was lucky enough to hear an speech by Dr Victoria Hale, founder of the world’s first not for profit pharmaceutical company who said that statistics on child poverty related deaths spurred her into action into forming One World Health.  As she said during her speech “no one should die from something that is preventable“.  An inspiring story.

But the way the media are reporting a few cases of swine flu you would think that the world was going to end. 

There are some conspiracy theories out there that the media hype and scaremongering is a ‘ruse’ to detract from the recent recession blue.  Perhaps they have something there. 

Either way can we as sensible people, just use our common sense for a minute?  

Conspiracy theory or not, in a world where people are dying of preventable diseases like TB, where children die in their millions of poverty related illnesses like diarrhea isn’t it about time we put some perspective on things?


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