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OP/ED: The Rich And The Poor And The Bird Flu

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posted on Sep, 14 2005 @ 08:42 PM

Planet Ark MANILA - A few people in a poor farming village come down with what they think is a bad case of winter flu and try to sweat it out without calling for medical treatment that they can barely afford. Weeks later, millions are infected and markets are crashing as the first human avian flu pandemic races around the world. It is the scenario that health officials are dreading as Asia makes only patchy progress in plans for dealing with an outbreak, held back mostly by a lack of resources.

The potential Avian Bird Flu or H5N1 pandemic is already raising questions and splitting the dived between rich and poor daily. The moral implications of the outbreak are beginning to weigh heavily even before any pandemic has actually occured.


In Asia questions are being asked and scenarios are being drawn of the potential spread of the disease by the poor. Too poor to seek medical treatment and too poor to afford medications, it is believed that this economic issue will compound sevely the spread of the disease.

In other areas, the poor often sustain themselves by self sufficiency which includes breeding of poultry for food products. In Asia those food products are often fatal in the case of H5N1. Customs prevail where raw products are used and a lack of education exists.

It is the poor and uneducated unfortunately, who for thousands of years have undergone these practises that will help turn the disease into a pandemic. So far other than Nurses taking care of patients with the illness, the majority of the fatalities have been occured by poor villagers.

These villagers cannot afford the medications required to help the symptoms and perhaps produce a non fatal outcome. The poor are unlikley to seek medical help and are more likely to rely on the assistance of family and neighbours until it is perhaps too late.

Then the situation grows. The disease left unchecked until too late will spread quicker amongst the human popualtion. Those who realise this event has the possibility to occur will, once it gets to a certain point in the chain, start to fear the villagers and what their way of life is bringing to the region. Death and disease, the greatest panic.

Will the people start taking matters into their own hands during an outbreak and begin burning villagers to obliterate the way of life?

It is not just this area that the rich - poor divide will crack wide open. In countries such as our own the cracks will turn into deep rivers of blood.

If a pandemic does hit before the world is fully "vaccinated" there will be issue over the care and cost. There are limited hospital beds. Will it be a case of helping everyone? I doubt it.

Vaccination - First cab off the rank will be the politicians. Then the emergency workers and medical teams. I would say their families would be thrown in for good measure. By this time the rich have bought their shots with cold hard cash. Golf partners with your local GP would do wonders for a jab.

Next would be the government employees and those other's in essential services. Doctors surgeries would be full, even before the pandemic reached your area. Medication would be run out of supply before it hits in the panic and rush. Only the rich could buy their way in.

The government could make some kind of peace consession and do a ballot for the general public for some of the vaccines but it would more likely be on a need basis. The people needed to keep the country moving would be vaccinated first.

The poor workers and the welfare system wouldn't get a look in and even if they did they could not afford it. The medication has no discounts and to fully protect a family of four in this early stage with the current medications would cost around $1000 or more US.

Then there is the issue of treatment after it hits. With those doctors and hospital beds. Like the aftermath of Katrina, the poor and infirm will be left behind. Selective population control.

The WHO estimates that a full-blown pandemic could put two-thirds of a country's work force out of action, raising questions such as how to maintain transport, policing and food supply.

Then there is the offshoot to the rest of the economy. We have seen in the face of a natural disaster and a bumbled recovery attempt, exactly what can happen after katrina. This would be magnified thousands of times.

There would not be the rest of the country and world to assist your city in the case of a pandemic because they too would be fighting their own battles with the disease. There would be no help from elsewhere and no relief. Chaos would break out.
It would probably start by the poor and outraged and further divide the rich and the poor.

The rich can also afford to leave an infected area to keep safe from the illness, another event we saw happening in the process of Katrina. it was the poor left behind to cope and in the case of a disease pandemic it would be the same.

The economy would collapse fuel and food supplies from place to place would be severly affected. Riots for food would break out, mass useless looting would occur with violence. It was seen on a realtive small scale really by Katrina. Troops, who would also be vaccinated early would be bought into areas for control and not relief or help as was also seen after Katrina. It was an example of how the Government would act. Except those internment camps would turn into extermination camps in the effort to control the spread of the pandemic. You all saw what happened to civil liberties after katrina, that was a practise run really to a more large scale disaster.

Katrina had some lessons for all of us for the future. What we saw we will see again. What we do and how we prepare for it is the key. People who were not prepared for Katrina or who brushed her off as insignificance faced natures wrath in her most destructive form. Preparation cannot occur last minute. Preparation must be made in advance. Scenarios to be run and issues fixed before they actually occur.

In this case the rich and poor divide closes. The rich and poor can equally be not prepared in advance but the rich will have the advantage once they realise preparation must take place.

But in the aftermath of a bird flu pandemic, as in the aftermath of Katrina, the rich versus poor divide will be split wide open with an ocean dividing the two.

[edit on 14-9-2005 by Mayet]

posted on Sep, 14 2005 @ 08:55 PM
In another article

But current global manufacturing capacity, at around 300 million regular flu doses a year, is simply insufficient to meet global needs during a pandemic.

"If you need to vaccinate the whole world, you are not going to do that with existing capacity, which is basically aimed at the over-65s in the West," said Tony Colegate of Chiron Corp, who coordinates production issues for the Influenza Vaccine Supply Task Force, an international industry group.

Adding new production will take time, raising fears that many poor parts of the world are likely to go without.

At present, 90 percent of capacity is concentrated in Europe and North America, and the World Health Organization (WHO) says past experience suggests governments will be reluctant to release supplies for export before domestic demand is fully met.

There will also be a hiatus of four to six months while factories switch to making a pandemic version, once a new strain of humanized bird flu is identified.

[edit on 14-9-2005 by Mayet]

posted on Sep, 14 2005 @ 09:34 PM
Only 300 millions?? And the others 6 billions, they die? And FEMA will kill everyone who have the flu in those camps??

Martial Law will be declared and bye bye to our rights...

posted on Sep, 14 2005 @ 09:38 PM
Good work Mayet. Thank you.

...FYI - bird flu is the one we know about. But as one microbiologist said last year, "Something happened about 18-24 months ago," and microbes now are mutating more rapidly and virulently than ever before.*

We're in for a rocky ride - and you're right - the rich are positioned to survive; the middle class, under-insured, and poor are not.

*Posted here on ATS - by me - ref CBC series, MRSA, etc

posted on Sep, 15 2005 @ 12:53 AM
Yes very good work Mayet. I have in the last several days posted on the national tv station's (ABS-CBN) forum here in the Philippines about Bird Flu as I'm trying to raise the warning here in this country.

This is a very very serious subject the government here needs to take action on. Unfortunately the officials here are to concerned about destroying the current administation instead of protecting the people. I call it a reactive government instead of a preventive government.

This countries dependency on the chicken for food is astonishing. Aside from pristine white beaches Bantayan Island where I now reside is also know as the "Egg Basket of the Visayas". With a population of more then 1.5M chickens that outnumbered the human population of 160,000. Bantayan produces more tham 1M egg per day.

We need to continue to raise the alarm!


posted on Sep, 15 2005 @ 03:06 PM
Mayet, this is one of the few times I find myself somewhat disagreeing with one of your posts. I firmly believe the possibility of a world pandemic of some variant of Avian Flu is a serious concern and needs to be addressed. Warnings need to be given, education of the ignorant needs to start--or accelerate, the production capacity of vaccine makers needs to be increased, etc., but your contrast of the rich & poor is, in my opinion, to stark to reflect the reality of the situation. Not everyone is either rich or poor, there is a vast middle ground as well.

I share your concern over the thin veneer of civilized behavior that keeps us from one another's throats and see the kinds of conduct that can result when that veneer breaks down. However, I don't think--in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina--the situation will develop as rapidly, or as broadly, as you seem to think--at least not in North America. Oh, I'm sure some of that lawlessness would happen here, but I think it would be quickly quelled. I don't think the same can be said for much of the rest of the world though. (That's just a gut feeling though as I don't have any real information--other than my own personal experience--to go on.) Your article makes it seem that a class war is inevitable if a flu pandemic strikes and I'm not certain I would agree with that assessment.

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