[LINK] Obama urges calm, caution and activation of online social networks.

Marghanita da Cruz marghanita at ramin.com.au
Tue May 5 12:30:34 AEST 2009

Bernard Robertson-Dunn wrote:
> Marghanita da Cruz quoted:
>>> The Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Department of Health and Human Services, supported by the Center for Disease Control, have been working around the clock to make sure that the public has the latest facts about the H1N1 virus.
> <rant>
> Facts are one thing, putting them into context and giving them meaning 
> is another.
> What I'd like to see is how the H1N1 virus stacks up against other 
> things in terms of risk and actual deaths.

Personally, I dislike mortality as a performance indicator.

For example, I would like to see the reporting on workplace, alcohol and car
injury statistics. These people and their community have to deal with the
immediate trauma and live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.

> And the justification that "we cannot afford to take any chances" is a 
> load of brown stuff. It's all about balancing chances, not eliminating 
> them, which is impossible.

Interesting switch from "Risk" to "Chance".

> Governments and the voters don't like statements of the form  - "We will 
> take reasonable precautions in line with the risks, but some people 
> might die. That's what happens in real life."

Firstly, the term risk has become associated/limited to financial/insurance
liability - not just by governments.

The dissemination of facts and useful/accurate advice is vital. My
understanding, is that the H1N1 virus is new to medical science and they don't
know the vector, symptoms or have a vaccine to prevent people from contracting
the disease. The advice provided seems useful  and generally applicable, to even
"normal flu" :

> FLU facts
>    1. Influenza is a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease that can be spread through coughing or sneezing.
>    2. Influenza is caused by a virus and is not the same as a cold. It can cause serious and debilitating complications such as pneumonia, especially in the elderly and others in the 'at risk' group.
>    3. Influenza causes 2,500 deaths, 80,000 GP visits and 15,000 hospitalisations in Australia each year amongst at risk groups.
>    4. 1.2 million Australians aged under 65 are in the 'at risk' group.
>    5. People with a chronic disease have a 40 times increased risk of death from influenza. A combination of heart and lung disease increases this risk 800 times.
>    6. Only 42 per cent of the 'at risk' group under 65 years of age are being vaccinated annually.
>    7. Only 20-50 per cent of health care workers, who are at a greater risk of contracting and spreading influenza, are being vaccinated annually.
>    8. 15 per cent of influenza related deaths and 60 per cent of hospitalisations are in the under 65 'at risk' group.
>    9. 10 per cent of all workplace absenteeism associated with illness is due to influenza.
>   10. Annual vaccination is the single most effective measure to prevent influenza.

> There is talk about evidence based policy development, 
> <http://www.pm.gov.au/media/speech/2008/speech_0226.cfm> but there's not 
> much evidence of it happening.
> </rant>
> I feel better now.

Interestingly, Obama talks about Science/Facts based policy - there is a difference.

Marghanita da Cruz
Phone: (+61)0414 869202

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