UNIVERSAL ACCESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, as of 22nd November 2009, worldwide more than 207 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including over 7820 deaths.
Well, H1N1 virus has certainly created a furor among all. It has been declared a pandemic by the WHO, and it certainly deserves the attention that it is getting. People are getting hoo-hah over how to protect oneself from contracting the virus, which is completely justifiable. People are wearing masks to prevent the virus, are avoiding gathering in public places, and are looking for ways to STOP the spread. I applaud the efforts put in by international organizations, government bodies, health ministries and everyone else who have worked hard to spread the awareness.
My question, however is, with 7,820 deaths, we are so frenzied about the issue. But what about 25 million people who have died of AIDS since 1981? What about more than 33.4 million people who live with AIDS today? What about 15.7 million women who have been stigmatized and discriminated because they live with the ‘disease’? What about 2.1 million children who are left to die, when they want to see the world? Why have governments, health ministries, and international organizations not done their share to control the deaths of SO MANY? People are Smart enough to wear masks to protect themselves from H1N1 virus, but why are they not smart enough to use condoms while having sex with people other than their partners?
We celebrated the World AIDS Day yesterday. We had 10 different programs in Kathmandu Valley itself, and I appreciate the effort put in. But why is that we gather one day of the year, make “mandalas” (use of colors to create patterns), distribute pamphlets, give speeches, bring the bigwigs, and get the news on the front page. This issue is everything but a one-day affair. Such kind of awareness raising is required the year through. We don’t wait for the H1N1/Swine Flu Day, do why do we wait for World AIDS Day?
It is high time that we prioritize the issue, and do what needs to be done. Everyone is equally vulnerable to the virus, the rich, the poor, the city-dwellers, the villagers, the high class, the low class, the Nepalese, the Americans, and everyone in between. It is everyone’s responsibility to join the cause, and do our share to bring UNIVERSAL ACCESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS.