The threat of an avian influenza pandemic does not exist in a threat vacuum, set apart, unaffected by all the other things that are occurring around the world.
This from RedOrbit:
Text of report in English by Ethiopian newspaper The Reporter on 19 July
The World Health Organization (WHO) said this week worsening malnutrition and the threat of disease outbreaks are compounding Ethiopia's humanitarian crisis. WHO is working with the government of Ethiopia and health partners to support the 4.6 million people needing urgent emergency food relief across the nation.
The number of people who need food assistance is increasing noticeably in Ethiopia. Health risks are being compounded by the global food security crisis, the impact of drought on agricultural production and the country's weak health system. During the coming months, annual rains are expected to again cause large-scale flooding, increasing loss of crops and risk of disease, according to WHO.
"In humanitarian terms, the situation is unacceptable," said Dr Eric Laroche, assistant director-general for WHO's health action in crises.
"The health of millions of Ethiopians is worsening by the day and the international community must act to support the country's government to ease this terrible suffering."
WHO said that in three regions alone (Somali, SNNP [NSSPS, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' State; and eastern Oromiya [Regional State]), the number of government-run feeding centres has risen from 200 three months ago to 605 now. Some 75, 000 children under five need therapeutic and supplementary nutrition support. WHO, UNICEF and non-governmental organizations are supporting these centres.
It also said additional major factors affecting people's health and livelihoods are a lack of access to safe drinking water, shortages of drugs and medical supplies and insufficient human resources.
The areas affected by shortages are also at significant risk of disease outbreaks, diarrhoea, measles and meningitis. Cases of acute watery diarrhoea have been reported in 16 woredas [Amharic for districts], and outbreaks of cerebrospinal meningitis in 37 woredas. More than 7,000 cases of measles have been registered in 38 woredas, it was learnt.
Originally published by The Reporter, Addis Ababa, in English 19 Jul 08.
The horrors of the situation aside (but not unappreciated) when scarcity of food is such a crushing concern (possibly) infected poultry is not high the list of worries for the hungry.
Our human tragedies do not exist in a vacuum; avian influenza exists within famine, cyclones, and earthquakes, heightening the risks for those living within these crises and all the rest of us safely tucked in our snug, dry, grocery stocked homes. If we are not moved by the tragedy of human suffering, we should be moved by the threat to our own safety.
Either way we should be concerned – selfish or egalitarian – those in desperate need will not care.