Friday, April 10, 2020

Think globally to help reduce harm from global health issues

In my last post I offered a geopolitical reply to a geopolitical opinion I disagree with. I was told that I was ignoring the facts, even though I wasn't disagreeing with facts, only a political interpretation of current events.

I thought I'd offer some context for my thinking, in case it will help convince others to take a more positive approach to these global health issues.

While I have lived all my life within Ontario, a province of Canada, I consider myself to be a human being who happens to live in a specific geographic region. As much as I can I try to live by "think globally, act locally", and to understand the different context in which other people live when trying to offer any support.

The most critical issues we face as humans are not confined within the political boundaries drawn up by political entities (countries, provinces, etc), so trying to solve them cannot be confined that way.

When looking at disease outbreaks there are many reasons why certain regions are more statistically likely than other regions, but the largest factor is population and the many other issues that come with that such as poverty.

Another Worldometer page, population by region, is informative. If you divide the world into 6 regions, you'll find that almost 60% of the population is in Asia, 17% in Africa, less than 10% in Europe, 8% Latin America and the Carribean, less than 5% North America, and .5% Oceania.

It should come as no surprise that models that predict the source of viruses, such as what we now know as SARS-CoV-2, will predict the higher population areas.

So, if China contains a large portion of the predictions, why not "blame" them?

I consider that to be an example of "think local, act global" where there is a belief that some alleged solution to a problem that would be relatively simple to implement in a sparsely populated region such as Europe or North American can be directly applied to more populous and complex regions such as Asia and Africa.

While North America has a growing problem of "vaccine hesitancy", one of W.H.O's Ten threats to global health in 2019, more populous areas have far more issues to deal with. India doesn't have the funding to provide everyone who wants vaccines with vaccines, with the funding and distribution of medical supplies being an issue. In Africa we have examples of medical sites being blown up given there is ongoing warfare in the region.

China has been doing better on financing, with a huge push in recent decades in becoming a much larger player in the global economy. It is no surprise that their rise economically, which could lead to better health outcomes in the region, is seen as a threat from minority-world economies in Europe and North America. At a time when we need greater transparency and dialog between and within the different regions, some local governments are focused on trying to break existing ties with majority-world countries.

This is why I consider blaming the governments or individual people within the majority world for the start of inevitable outbreaks to be counterproductive, when we should be doing everything we can to support the local governments in the most populous regions in the world. As I said earlier, blaming will only cause governments to keep secrets which is itself a threat to global health. We need information to be more freely flowing, and that requires the help of local governments that must be seen and treated as allies, not opponents.

No comments: