Friday, September 26, 2014

Bad Governance

The newspaper today has a Reuters' article about the President of The Gambia in West Africa voicing concern about pirates ramming boats just off Europe and being responsible for the deaths of many illegal immigrants to Europe. I heard a BBC report earlier this week and the gruesome details albeit on radio left a graphic picture in my head that I just cannot shake: A Palestinian man recounted that a (pirate's) boat rammed their boat carrying illegal immigrants to Europe (at  U$4000 per person), in the ensuing confusion, he and his brother clung to a piece of wood and between them tried to save a baby when died of hypothermia; he further stated that he saw a desperate survivor clinging to the (pirate's) boat and the men leaning over and hacking the hands off the body!  Such appalling inhumanity but in the next breath the Palestinian said he wanted to go to Sweden where he had family and find a job. Gaza is pretty much totaled. How many people can Europe hold, even with the best intentions? And what about the swelling numbers of their unemployed--- currently seeding better educated and tech savvy disgruntled young people who feel no empathy and strong cultural ties with their country of birth/residence ?
I replied back to the President of The Gambia... what was he doing to keep his people safely in his country? Small bands of elites in Africa mimicking their counterparts in the developed world are leading to increasingly desperate peoples. Sierre Leone has just instituted quarantine measures without seemingly giving thought to how people would get basic supplies to live, including food-- even if people started a kitchen garden, it would be at least a few months before they can reap anything-- which led to the problem in the first place-- the possible zoonotic transmission of the Ebola virus from a different species into humans-- eating bushmeat.  Sadly this can be repeated in Latin America and pretty much elsewhere.

29/9/14 Yep:   'Though far from over, the crisis has demonstrated how ill-equipped the multilateral system is to cope with global public health emergencies, particularly in the world’s weak and failing states. In an increasingly globalized world, it is illusory and hazardous to imagine that fragile states can cope with such emergencies on their own, cordoned off from the rest of the world.'

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Voluneetering-- how does this work in practice?

So it seems to me surprising that the most important and exhausting tasks are left on the shoulders of those a bit more community-minded than most.  I read about UNICEF looking for (qualified) volunteers in Nutrition, Risk Communication and Water + Sanitation for the West African countries currently affected by the Ebola outbreak.  While I understand the urgency of the situation and the need for a quick-fix solution and maybe a sane system might develop from an ad-hoc one ( but I pessimistically don't think so!) - surely focusing on building local capacity using their volunteers might be a better long-term solution?

I have been compulsively following whatever Ebola news has been grudgingly picked by Google-- Fox News (???) and the established networks and cussing lack of news to disseminate the important things without a 'spin'- couldn't any network find a local person with a mobile telephone to call in daily reports?   I think the Washington Post or the NT Times had a video about the 'burial boys' of Sierra Leone -- 20-something yr olds, some who used to be  taxi-drivers and who volunteered to do the unenviable task for burying the dead victims, facing - being infected, outrage from the communities not being allowed to honour their  dead and ostracism from their family and immediate community from running the possible risk of infection.  They were initially not paid and are now on a princely sum of U$6 per day -- really-- we grudge them THAT paltry sum for risking their lives??

The question of finance is a tricky one -- medivac-ing ain't cheap as presumably there are not many specialised units. I read reports that to evacuate the first American doctor was U$ 2 million then U$1 million per person -- whatever it is: plenty money and yes-- brave of them to volunteer (when they did the outbreak wasn't 'on') and also wise of their agency to have back-up insurance but I mourn the loss of the local healthcare workers -- we are told that when they realised that they had contracted the disease-- no-one was digging into their pockets to medi-vac them to Germany which one assumes had agreed to treat them--- well people-- how does THAT work-- the nightmare (and cost!) of getting a local person to the level that you can communicate with on an intellectual level and you leave them without (financial) support?  On what basis does the world decide to spend billions and then ignore local capacity?  PAY/MAKE AVAILABLE MONEY FOR THE DAMM PEOPLE!