Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm Looking Through You: The Invisible Bird Flu

Strategy of Early Warning: Where Is It???

"WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.
" In the 21st century, health is a shared responsibility, involving equitable access to essential care and collective defence against transnational threats."

This is the opening statement from the World Health Organization. You know,the one that is supposed to keep you informed and warn you of impending epidemics of any kind? Since Avian Influenza first flew onto the scene in 1997, there have been numerous warnings and reports of the dangers of a pandemic possibly arising from this virus.
The WHO was on top of the story and reporting was heavy.

People were alarmed at the high death rate that was possible from it. Unforunately, In recent years there has been a decisive lack of honest reporting of 'Bird flu", not only by the media, but by the very source of information we are asked to depend on.

When the idea of another great pandemic entered the mainstream media, all coverage was fair game. The president was on TV, movies were made and even Oprah had an entire show devoted to the subject.
People were aware that it could come soon and indeed it looked that way to many. Luckly, that did not happen and humanity on the whole, have had extra time to prepare for it's inevitable arrival. The threat has not gone away, but has been slowed by killing millions of birds and taking a certain kind of medicine. However, this strategy has almost run it's course and may soon be useless.

That leaves us the strategy of early warning.
The indonesian gov't and the WHO, have decided to withold information that is vital to the warning of the world, as to how close a pandemic may be. The Indonesian Health minister Supari, has decided to withhold information on cases of bird flu in her country. These reports are supposed to be timely and comprehensively reported to the WHO. They are then in turn, are to report these infections deaths and clusters of cases to the rest of the United Nations and general public at large.
Well I did some checking and Indonesia is still a member of the united nations.
With the constant denial of lab confirmed cases and suspected cases surrounding H5N1 confirmed bird deaths, the Indonesian governments puts at risk the health of the entire world. They are not alone in doing this. Most major countries are withholding genetic samples of the bf virus,including Indonesia.

Avian Influenza H5N1, originates from China, yet they barely report any cases of it. China raises more birds than any country in the world and eat many other animals, all capable of harboring this disease and many others. Don't hear much about it though. Ever since the the election of the WHO's new Director General, Margaret Chan, bird flu reporting has become non-existant in China.

Remember the SARS outbreak? That started in China, too. That was due to eating an animal called a Civit cat. How lucky we were to get that quelched..for now. With bird flu now tearing through Indonesia ,Vietnam, Laos, and northern Thailand, how is it possible that China cannot muster even a small outbreak on it's own borders? As for the U.S., they don't seem to be too concerned with what you know about it's progression either.

Although, the U.S. gov't has done more for the prevention and awareness of bf than any other country. I will give them that much. From an Oct press release we get this headline..

U.S. International Avian and Pandemic Influenza Assistance Approaches $950 Million

However, the U.S. continues to play footsie with honest reporting and the travel risks associated with avian influenza. The current high risk factor of travelling to these heavily infected bird flu hotspots, are not promply disclosed to the American people or the general public at large.

The last warden message on Bird flu in Indonesia was on February 29,2008

The CDC Travel alert page does not mention these recent outbreaks, but did post an outbreak notice on Oct 3, 2008

The U.S. Avian flu Factsheet has not been updated since Sept. 2008

In fact, the WHO steers away from timely reporting on Avian influenza, and continues to let Indonesia refuse to send in reports of human cases, suspected outbreaks or deaths.
Indonesia has stated it will report on BF whenever it wants, in increments of up to 6 months. The current dangerous situation there continues to be kept in the shadow of censorship. The WHO leads one to believe that all is well in Indonesia, yet nothing could be further from the truth.
Even the Indonesian Drs are beginning to question the official results, as they are dealing with the patients directly. They are seeing the patients with high fevers, constant coughing, early symptoms of pneumonia surrounded by 100's of dead AI infected birds.
Now, as Indonesia endures its largest suspected cluster of human infections ,we get this message...
No U.S. Travel Warning Exists for Indonesia

this is a warden message in relation to terrorism. I find it ironic that Great Britain, Canada and Australia continue to carry very recent travel warning messages involving terrorism. None of these mention bf, but the U.S. says all is good?

So, just when is the Director General going to enlighten us with information on this new outbreak? When is the WHO going to bother to tell you, things aren't going so well in Indonesia?
Why do You have to read difficult translations from distant lands, trying to discover just how close the world may be to the next great pandemic?
When is the WHO going to come clean on the spread of bird flu in Asia and the Middle East? You and I both know the situation can get out of hand rather quickly.. Has it already? We don't know that answer yet, but I feel we could at least get a better warning than we have been getting.
The coddling of AI infected countries continues to put the rest of the entire world at risk. As of now Nov 23,2008, there are no travel or warden messages from any country involving bf. The World Health Organization continues to keep you in the dark. I dont like it.
"In the 21st century, health is a shared responsibility, involving equitable access to essential care and collective defence against transnational threats."

The last time I checked, that included me and my family...and you and yours.

..25 million dollars for a ceiling in the U.N building..

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