Thursday, June 11, 2009

A pandemic among us

A global epidemic finally catches us. Catches up with us.

Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as the swine flu, after a meeting with health experts in Geneva.

The swine flu pandemic is the first global flue epidemic in 41 years. The last pandemic was the Hong Kong flu in 1968 which killed one million people, the world health authority said.

Unlike war, which human beings declare upon human beings in certain parts of the world one at a time, a pandemic is one inanimate enemy that human beings should—and must—declare war to at once, simultaneously, and in all places and in every nook and cranny of the globe.

For both kill.

For the first kind of war, man has designed and manufactured every conceivable weapon and gadget that instill the fear of civilization being wiped out in an instant—should a global war similar to the last from 1941-45 erupts—and justify the political and economic oppression by the powerful of the powerless. By the haves of the have-nots. Look at Iran and North Korea. Take a look at Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is no weapon yet in the second kind of war. The Associated Press report on the WHO decision said it will “trigger drugmakers to speed up production of a swine flu vaccine and prompt governments to devote more money toward efforts to contain the virus.”

There are also no sides in this war against the swine flu, no political underpinnings, no diplomatic initiative to mount or negotiation to conduct. It is the world against an unseen enemy that attacks without consideration of gender, race or creed.

In the swine flu pandemic, the only issue that matters is the health of the human race. The motive is win the war, “contain” the virus, to preserve life.

So that there will be ones left alive to declare war against and so the world can use its stockpile of nuclear and other sophisticated instruments of death it has spent billions of money and precious time to produce?

I suspect so.

Wars—economic and political—occur everyday in many places, taking the lives of many in subtle and unsubtle ways. Governments usually perpetuate these and the people, taking sides, sustain their continued happening. These wars over the long period of man’s existence have killed more than a pandemic did. They ontinues to kill.

The swine flu pandemic is not an everyday event, unlike hunger or traffic or political squabbling. But because the media’s reporting painted the swine flu virus in very graphic and alarming terms, people have come to grips with the sound byte and behaved accordingly.

It is for experts to explain the causes and events that led to the mutation of the swine flu virus. For the people around the world, their concern is how not to get afflicted. For those who have it, to get well and healed.

Are we to panic? No.

The WHO the other day said 74 countries had reported nearly 27,737 cases of swine flu, including 141 deaths. Health officials in the US said swine flu cases in the country are on the decline.

“Despite WHO's hopes, raising the epidemic alert to the highest level will almost certainly spark some panic about spread of swine flu.” That’s the Associated Press reporting.

It continued:

“Fear has already gripped Argentina, where thousands of people worried about swine flu flooded into hospitals this week, bringing emergency health services in the capital of Buenos Aires to the brink of collapse. Last month, a bus arriving in Argentina from Chile was stoned by people who thought a passenger on it had swine flu. Chile has the most swine flu cases in South America.”

“In Hong Kong on Thursday, the government ordered all kindergartens and primary schools closed for two weeks after a dozen students tested positive for swine flu—a move that some flu experts would consider an overreaction."

In the dictionary, preparation comes before proximity. The events above-described should warn us that the swine flu recognizes no geographical borders. Because there were already reported swine flu cases in the country, we should be concerned, not fear. We should prepare.

Yes, we should strengthen our defenses, but not for swine flu alone. There are matters that could kill us swiftly than swine flu. One of this is the constitutional assembly virus, which has contaminated some pot-bellied swine in the House of Representatives and who now wish it to inflict upon us.

That’s another war we better be on guard.

No comments: