Saturday, 30 May 2009

Not to be sneezed at

I heard from an insider that the Manx ‘Third Sector’ have been grumbling at their lack of consultation on a possible flu pandemic. Some even appear to have said so at a recent ‘emergency meeting’ with government officials when the first news of Swine Flu in Mexico broke. It must have been a classic meeting, given that some politicians and government officials knew less about the subject than the charitable bods they were supposed to be briefing.
Maybe this is why Dr Kishore, the Director of Public Health, is giving a lunchtime lecture on the topic to them on 22nd June. Given what I’ve seen, it might also explain why it’s only expected to take an hour.
You see, various strands of the ‘Third Sector’ were invited to explanatory talks by public health officials here two years ago. I was at the one for ‘faith leaders’, and those who bothered to attend and show interest continued to talk to each other and health officials.
This is how the Flu Ethics Committee I’ve been part of at Nobles Hospital came together and has continued to work ever since. In the case of certain faith groups and their preference for top-down structures and hording power and knowledge, it might also explain why not even their fellow ‘professionals’ (never mind their congregations) ever shared the vital information given then by the public health officials.
Given the prolific publicity about their Manx ‘charitable work’ it was also revealing that evangelicals could only put up one attendee at the original meeting and have never been back, despite open offers of a seat at the table.
Maybe they took the hump when, after having had it patiently explained to all that the thing to do was avoid public gatherings, the sole attendee said it was ‘impossible’ to close a profitable little café they run because it was a ‘valuable community outreach’. He was then told, not so patiently, that knowingly contributing to the spread of a contagious disease by operating a business after being told to persist by a public health official was an offence punishable by large fines and years of imprisonment.
Many ‘Third Sector’ busybodies (again, predominantly the faith-led, cult-like ones) also want to turn threats of a crisis into a funding bid for their dubious ‘community services’. But I’m not sure that anything which targets and socially isolates the vulnerable, destroys families which don’t fit the Stepford ideal and generally turns their victims into vegetables dependent on religious cults is a ‘community service’ in the first place. Certainly not one worthy of public funding.
For the benefit of anyone worried I’ll lay out some simple facts established by recent UK government work on the Mexican outbreak.
The pattern suggests something closer to the 1957 flu outbreak than the much deadlier 1918 Spanish Flu will be this winter’s flu strain. It’s milder than feared, will kill less and the immediate danger will simply be identifying the symptoms as the HSN1 strain, not common or garden winter flu. The remedy is for doctors to treat all winter flu as the dangerous stuff just in case.
Providing you look out for vulnerable neighbours and relatives, ring your doctor instead of rushing to the surgery or hospital, get your or their Tamiflu, stay home for a few days and not rush back to work it need not be a huge deal. The biggest dangers are running around cross-infecting people and dipstick major employers who, doctors fear, are planning to buy in Tamiflu and hand it out to employees willy-nilly as a way to get them to work on. This lowers your resistance and means you are surrounded at work by others who carry infections which you will then pass to your families and friends.
So, the way to stop the flu spreading is to chill out. Read a book, watch TV, browse the ‘net, but don’t exert yourself and don’t kid yourself you’re so vital to the way the world turns you rush to work. How hard is that?
Oh, and cults, voodoo merchants and other busybodies? Nothing for you here.
You’re surplus to requirement. There are no public funds to raid, no place to rattle a tin. So shut up and butt out.

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