The “Swine Flu,” the Economy and Developing Nations

Piggy bank, originally uploaded by mag3737

Discussion is bubbling over the spread of the latest human epidemic also known as “the swine flu.” Among the babble is the disease’s impact on the developing world – both physically and economically. Below are some links addressing the issue:

The Potential Economic Impact of Pandemic Flu on Poor Countries: More Serious than a Sneezing Pork Chop – One of the first things this post questions is the appropriateness of the term “swine flu.”

The impact of this pandemic flu outbreak has little to do with pigs. And a lot to do with people.

Every time there is a global flu epidemic, we seem to want to blame it on something. In 1918 we called it the Spanish flu, though Spaniards had nothing to do with it. For the last few years we blamed it on birds, calling it the “avian flu” as if it were the birds’ fault. Now we’re blaming it on pigs, by calling it the “swine flu”. In an effort to appease the public, several countries have banned the import of pork!

None of this makes any sense. When was the last time you saw a sneezing pork chop?

The genetic code of a specific influenza virus may have snippets of a whole menagerie of viruses, but once it starts to spread among humans, it is a human flu epidemic. Let’s just call it the pandemic flu and get on with it.

It then goes on to calculate the pandemic flu’s affect on poor countries economically when added to the current financial crisis and closes by offering some suggestions on how to deal with it from here (in terms of assisting those said countries.)

Swine flu fear catching fast in weak world economy – On a similar note as the Global Development Views post, this article takes a look at the bigger picture in terms of how the flu has impacted an already weak global economy, as well as the potential damage it can do if not contained soon. Included is a warning to developing nations:

A report by the World Bank, updated last year, estimated that a severe pandemic — like the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918 that killed between 40 million and 100 million people — would cause a nearly 5 percent drop in global economic activity, costing the world about $3.1 trillion.

“Even a mild pandemic has significant consequences for global economic output,” a pair of Australian researchers wrote in a 2006 report cited by the World Bank.

In a global recession, a pandemic could present a greater threat. On Friday, the World Bank warned developing nations that slashing public health budgets could put their citizens’ health at risk.

And finally, a piece that sums up what has already been mentioned before in terms of the flu’s impact:

Swine flu will hit poor countries hardest – A piece that expresses concern that anti-virals, once made available, won’t be easily affordable or accessible to those in poor nations.

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