The Big Bad Wolf

The children’s story of the Three Little Pigs is a staple among elementary schools in most parts of the world. Who among us is unaware of the might of the huff and puff of the big bad wolf? The story taught us that hard work can overcome any obstacle, no matter how hairy!

The pigs’ fable has taken on a whole new meaning in the last few days. I am of course referring to the “dreaded” pandemic “The Swine Flu”. Ever since the first outbreak in the United States some months ago, the H1N1 Influenza Virus (HIV!!!) has brought much grief to governments and people across the globe. India and her billion strong population is no exception to this phenomenon. With double digit confirmed cases of infection, that keep spiralling upward, and an alarming fatality count, the Swine Flu has been officially declared as an epidemic in the nation.

But apart from the immediate effects of the disease, there are quite a few after and side-effects that should be considered at this point.

An interesting turn of events that has taken place is the government’s decision to take-over the reins from the private medical establishments with a view to expedite the “healing” process. Now don’t get me wrong, but government hospitals aren’t exactly havens for patients and are most definitely not the best kept or well-maintained hospitals in this country. To hand-over power to them during such an epidemic is questionable at the least. Spurious medicines, unhygienic environments and a apathetic staff are just some of the many highlights of government-run medical establishments.

Although fatal, the virus can be contained and cured if detected at the opportune moment. Which means that the prospects aren’t as gloomy as many rumor mongers would have you believe. In fact, statistically you’d have a better chance of being involved in a automobile accident than being diagnosed with the Swine Flu! But paranoia always dwarfs logic and reason. The daily news reports and over the top media attention has made citizens run to their local (and in some cases international) chemists and stock up on Tamiflu, paracetemol-based medicines and the notorious face mask. The result? Chronic Supply and Panic Demand leading to a severe shortage.We might think this doesn’t seem too bad, but when you consider the fact that deserving patients are being deprived of the needed supplies, we realize the perils of this panic state.

Then there are those who discover the inner “Entrepreneur” at such trying times. Middle-men are buying off face-masks in bulk from chemists and medical suppliers at the standard rates and then selling the masks at absurdly high prices in the retail market. Their argument, why not make a fast buck when the opportunity presents itself?

The virus is fast becoming a threat to the safety of the nation. Due precautions, timely diagnosis and a calm demeanour are our best weapons against the big Bad Wolf of a Disease. But what about the other small bad wolves that are roaming freely and probably will do so long after the pandemic is contained…?

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