Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Send for the men in white coats...

Tonight president Yushchenko made a stutteringly delivered, alarmist, outrageous address to the nation in which he blames PM Tymoshenko, parliamentary leaders, and leaders of the opposition for inactivity when they were supposedly already aware of the flu epidemic taking a grip of the Western parts of the country.

Without providing any medical evidence, he claims that in Ukraine new hybrid strains of flu are beginning to materialise.

In particular, he blames his main political rivals in the presidential campaign of organising large rallies in Kyiv on 24th October, by which time 10 victims had died of flu-like illnesses in the town of Ternopil. [Whether these deaths were due to swine flu, or the seasonal flu, whether the victims had underlying medical conditions, whether they were children or adults, all quite significant in swine flu outbreaks, he does not say.]

Quite scandalously he suggests: "This is directly reminiscent of the Mayday parade in Kyiv [several days] after the [nuclear] accident in Chernobil [when the city had been showered with nuclear material]."

But most worryingly, he declares: "It is necessary to change the system of organisation of state authority in Ukraine...The principal centre of decision-making should be the National Security and Defence Council, [which he heads, naturally]

LEvko's prescription: He should lie down in a quiet room, take some deep breaths, cold towel on his forehead, have a sip of herbal tea..with honey. Or the men in white coats may be coming for him soon too...

Serious US commentators consider the tough measures undertaken by the Ukrainian government to combat the flu outbreak to be excessive, and warn against politicisation of this health problem. 'Der Spiegel' suspects the sudden concern by Ukraine's politicians for the health of its citizens could just be electioneering. And the pesky swine flu virus may be not as tough as first thought...

P.s. The World Health Organisation yesterday reported: "Regions in western Ukraine continue to show the highest rates of acute respiratory illness/influenza-like illness. The level of activity in the Kyiv area is also increasing rapidly."

If the president is so concerned about the spread of flu at mass meetings then why oh why did he not use his powers to postpone or cancel tonight's European Champion's League soccer game in Kyiv? [Doh! Never thought of that!]

The WHO report "strongly recommends early treatment with the antiviral drugs", [which are currently in worryingly short supply in Ukraine], but also says: "Given the potential significance of this outbreak as an early warning signal, WHO commends the government of Ukraine for its transparent reporting and open sharing of samples. WHO continues to recommend no closing of borders and no restrictions on international travel, including to Ukraine. Experience shows that such measures will not stop further spread of the virus."


UkrToday said...

FN: I fully agree with your assessment.

Yushchenko is desperate to find an excuse to prolong his term of office. He has even toyed with the idea of postponing the election until May.

Problem is WHO have also issued a statement that we can expect a second and third wave of infections during Spring (April to June). This makes Yushchenko's alarmist comments even more alarming.

The elections were meant to be held two weeks ago, but Yushchenko opposed the move and forced Ukraine to hold the election in the midst of its bitter cold winter.

Concern over the flue epidemic is another reason why Ukraine should consider adopting a single round preferential ballot. One round with results known in days not weeks, same result and more democratic.

Yushchenko has less then 3.5% support and will not be re-elected to office.

Come January 23 Yushchenko's five-year term of office expires. If elections are postponed then it is incumbent on the parliament to remove Yushchenko from office and either have the parliament elect the President (as is the case in Moldova, Greece and the EU) or they could appoint Lytvn as care taker President.

For the sake of democracy, whatever happens Yushchenko MUST not be allowed to extend his term of office beyond January/February.

elmer said...

Finally! Someone in Ukraine who makes sense:

The article spells out facts, precautions, and analysis - and the fact that Ukraine's politicians don't know sick 'em from come here when it comes to medicine and antiviral drugs.

"One of them kept mixing up Teraflu, an anti-fever drug, and Tamiflu, an anti-flu drug. When a lawmaker-doctor, who is a secretary of the health committee in the Verkhovna Rada, said that Tamiflu is a drug that only supports the immune system and that we “have decided at the National Security Council meeting that we’ll buy ozeltamivir instead,” I started to feel scared and embarrassed. If the country’s fate is decided by people who have no idea that Tamiflu and ozeltamivir are the same thing, what can we expect?"

elmer said...

The Harvard Crimson is a student-run newspaper, run entirely by students, and the articles are written by students, except when specifically noted. It is a very good college newspaper.

They may be serious when they write their articles, but I'm not sure that I would accord them the same weight as health professionals.