All the fuss on flus

The media is an interesting sort of animal. When journalists get their teeth into a story, they will milk the story for all its worth; leaving the story as dry as a bone.

The media is an interesting sort of animal. When journalists get their teeth into a story, they will milk the story for all its worth; leaving the story as dry as a bone.

However, say, for example, another story comes along, especially one that has all the ingredients of a Hollywood thriller, the old story is quickly put on the backburner as the new one is pursued in a frenzy.

A Hollywood movie, based on a Michael Crichton novel is exactly what this whole swine flu thing reminds me of.

Every book that this great author pens is mostly always about an emergency that sweeps North America-usually a terrible virus that either emerges out of the jungles of Africa (like a mutant strain of Ebola) or out of some evil scientist’s laboratory in either the Middle East or the former Soviet Republics. Well, the swine flu ‘pandemic’ is something like this.

Do you notice how if you remove the‘d’, ‘e’ and ‘m’ out of ‘pandemic’ you get the word ‘panic’? This is what I believe the whole issue is.

Its just one of those global panics that get people all hot and bothered and then, as it will invariably happen as people realise that it isn’t as bad as they thought, it will disappear from our radars as quickly as it came.

Who can remember just how panicked the whole civilised world (the people who had access to newspapers and television) was about SARS? 

SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), between November 2002 and July 2003, was the ‘new kid on the block’ that terrorised whole continents. I wonder what happened to it?

It came, shut down a few airports, overloaded a few emergency rooms, and then, poof, it was gone. What about bird flu?

It came and scared everyone to death. I had a few friends totally refusing to eat roast chicken. They chose to eat pork instead. Unfortunately some people died as a result of the bird flu.

Just as I was staring to think that my own demise would come from the skies, it went out with a whimper. The latest news is that it is killing a few people in Indonesia. Sad, but the Armageddon that people thought was upon us, bird flu was not.

Now as about three hundred people have died, we have a new, nightmarish scenario to keep us awake at night. As you’ve probably noticed, I’m rather sceptical about this whole thing.

First of all, any medical panic that is started by the Yankee press, that has the word ‘virus’, ‘deadly’ and ‘…’ (insert any animal of your choice here) is something that should be taken with the pinch of salt.

I’m proudly Third World-ish in my mentality. Westerners (here you can insert any national from an OECD, NATO and EU nation) are used to living in a sterile environment; where diseases are one of those things that come along every winter- in the form of a common cold. And that’s pretty much it.

Here in Africa, I’ve got a lot more to worry about than the possibility of a Mexican, who has been hanging around pigs too much, arriving at Kanombe Airport ready to give me a dose of his home-grown virus.

Before we waste money doing this and that, maybe everyone should spend their money on something that REALLY kills people.

Instead of panicking about some exotic flu virus, that will probably disappear like SARS, maybe it would be better to fund the battle against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Of course, none of these diseases is truly a western problem; but I certainly wish that it was a priority.   

sunnyntayombya@newtimes.co.rw

 

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