Tuesday 26 May 2009

Swine Flu and the media hype - the role of government

We get regular media hypes around new not so known diseases, Bird Flu, SARS etc. And for good reasons: In end April a global outbreak of Swine Flu was "imminent" according to the WHO. Dr Chang said "It really is all of humanity that is under threat in a pandemic." The European Commission’s highest ranking civil servant on health issues, Robert Madelin Director General at DG Sanco pointed out at the same time that "Every year 2,500 people die of the flu in Europe. The question now is not whether people will die, but whether it will be thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands.".

When statements like this lands in the inbox of journalists it would be surprising if they didn´t get going telling the world what’s happening. But the effects for other healthcare areas are devastating - how much money is spent now on Swine Flu that could be used better elsewhere? We could hope that the civil servants and politicians before we find the next new disease have stopped following the PR consultancies handbooks for issue management (they are created for corporations and excellent for them just not aimed at being used by governments) and instead try responsible leadership.

Hans Rosling at Gapminder always has interesting statistics:

1 comment: