Ezra Klein at TAPPED
has some somber words about the possible flu pandemic and our state of unpreparedness to deal with it. After Katrina, we can ill afford to not be prepared about major events that we know are coming. - fc
PHEW ON THE FLU?
The most notable moment in yesterday's press conference was, perhaps, not the president's hapless protestations that Harriet Miers is the galaxy's most qualified judicial pick, but the anomalous moment when bird flu came up and Bush replied with a long, thoughtful, and -- dare I say it? -- wonkish answer. Over at The New York Times, they've got a potential explanation as to where this, ahem, outbreak of interest came from:
Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, called the sudden interest in preparing for a flu epidemic the latest "post-Katrina effect."
"I don't think politically or perceptually the government feels that it could tolerate another tragically inadequate response to a major disaster," Dr. Redlener said. He said a flu epidemic was the "next big catastrophe that we can reasonably expect, and the country is phenomenally not prepared for this."
Well, I'm certainly glad that politics and perceptual concerns finally convinced the government to act on this. As it happens, America is particularly poorly situated to deal with an avian flu outbreak, what with our fragmented health system and large community of uninsured. The former makes wide-scale mobilizations for treatment quite tough while the latter causes infected victims to wait abnormally long before seeking treatment, increasing their ability to spread the disease. Not a good combination.
Incidentally, this week is Pandemic Flu Awareness Week, so check out the good folks at fluwikie.com
(down at the moment, but that's probably temporary), who're working to keep you informed.
From the FluWiki
link in the above section ::
About the FluWiki
Just a Bump in the Beltway
, The Next Hurrah
and Effect Measure
blogs announce the launch of a new experiment in collaborative problem solving in public health, The Flu Wiki.
The purpose of the Flu Wiki is to help local communities prepare for and perhaps cope with a possible influenza pandemic. This is a task previously ceded to local, state and national governmental public health agencies. Our goal is to be:
• a reliable source of information, as neutral as possible, about important facts useful for a public health approach to pandemic influenza
• a venue for anticipating the vast range of problems that may arise if a pandemic does occur
• a venue for thinking about implementable solutions to foreseeable problems
No one, in any health department or government agency, knows all the things needed to cope with an influenza pandemic. But it is likely someone knows something about some aspect of each of them and if we can pool and share our knowledge we can advance preparation for and the ability to cope with events. This is not meant to be a substitute for planning, preparation and implementation by civil authorities, but a parallel effort that complements, supports and extends those efforts.
While we will continue to administer and maintain the Wiki, we are turning the wheel over to the community, to take it where the road leads us. There is a bit of a learning curve to driving this rig. We hope you will find the instructions sufficient to get started. You’ll soon be learning on your own.
What the Flu Wiki is not.
It is not:
• a news filter
• a discussion board
• a place to promote commercial products
• a soap box
• a place to advance pet theories
There is nothing wrong with these things. Many of us have blogs that do some or all of them. The wiki is not a replacement or competition for any existing blog or site. We hope existing sites will continue to grow, flourish and generally continue to carry out the important functions they have already done so well.