Saturday, September 01, 2007

September 1 Flu Update

Margaret Chan addressed the Regional Committee for SE Asia.

CIDRAP on the recent WHO standards for lab testing of H5N1. Five new cases emerge in Vietnam (from earlier in the year)

LTE on threat of bird flu in Guyana.

Region in Philippines says it is bird flu free.


At 1:43 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Margaret Chan’s speech before the Regional Committee of South-East Asian health ministers, at first blush appears to be a very well balanced, universal commentary, on all the important aspects of health management and disease prevention and coordination. It covers so many subjects, that it’s hard to really grasp the main theme. But I’ll give her a “A-“.

However, the reason she doesn’t deserve an A+, is because I noticed she didn’t cover one very important subject, which is going to impact those Asian health ministers like a ton of bricks dropping on their noggins: the surging demand for biofuels around the world, which is going to pose a significant threat to the world’s basic food supplies and supply chains. This is going to pose a further direct threat to the health of all these people in third world countries. No bout a doubt it.

The increased competition from the world energy industries, called the “biofuel’s demand for ethanol’, is already causing a huge conversion of arable land from food sources to energy based crops, such as corn. We are already seeing this in the US. Ethanol production is expected to cause major upheavals in the agricultural markets, and we are seeing the early warning signs already. Biofuels production is increasing exponentially all over the world, and is being driven by the rise of oil prices and the threat of climate change. This is going to significantly push up the prices of food that these Asian countries desperately need to feed it’s densely overpopulated humans and animals.

This situation is going end up being a delicate “balancing act” between the poor, who compete for sustenance to survive, and the mighty economies of the world, who need a cheap energy source (unfortunately, also to fuel their cars).

Margie should have warned these Asian countries that they need to prepare now with emergency plans on how to deal with rapidly escalating food and fuel prices, and how they are going to feed their people on poverty level incomes. They not only face an inexorable number of diseases to deal with, they are also going to be faced with the price of corn, bread, pork, poultry, sugar, and cooking oil rising beyond their means, as well.

So, if controlling diseases and providing affordable health care in these countries, weren’t challenging enough, now they are really going to have to develop the “ultimate strategy” of how to feed their burgeoning populations, while battling global climatic change.

I am afraid we are not headed towards an elegant solution on all this.

Maybe Marge should have toughened up on her text and message, just a little.



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