Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swine-dler’s flu: Be very suspicious

A mortality rate of 45 persons per day is recorded for one of the Philippines ’ major diseases, which also figures into the top 10 killer diseases victimizing millions around the world each year. No, it isn’t “swine flu.” It’s tuberculosis (TB). So, in this regard, the current campaign launched from the US and transmitted through WHO and networking sites like Twitter shouldn’t be scary at all to those familiar with statistics on the past decade’s “flu” scare.

Worldwide death numbers from SARS have reached only 774 since 2000, and from avian flu, 254 from 2003 to 2009--both paling in comparison to the annual rates of 20,000 and 1.7 million TB deaths in the Philippines and the world, respectively.

While we do not want to downplay any real danger of an influenza pandemic, the hype which attended all the special flu scares in the past had also been overblown and linked to “Big Pharma.” Through global mainstream media’s ferocious scare reporting, countries are fast being forced to join the bandwagon for fear of being branded as irresponsible or travel ban-worthy. Their governments are likewise pressured to stock up on anti-influenza drugs and vaccines from pharmaceutical firms partly owned by individuals in the centers of political power.

The company that produces Tamiflu, for example, is partly owned by former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former US Secretary of State George Schultz, both neoconservative Washington bureaucrats.

However, one simple but un-reported fact that should dispel the panic over SARS, avian, and swine flu is that there are a million flu deaths every year that aren’t related to any of these three viruses.

Mainstream media all over the world carry sensationalistic flu news without question because, for one, sensationalism has its intrinsic benefits. Another reason is because Big Pharma is one of the biggest sources of advertising revenues for both print and broadcast media. As a result, the role of critical, watchdog news reporting is left to anti-globalist Web sites or blogs and to anti-Establishment spaces like this column.

But, there are, indeed, a great deal of gigantic con games being played by Big Pharma, especially in this age of global mass communication. From the stock market boom and busts to the subprime mortgage frauds, to hoaxes like the Millennium Bug, and now, the various flu panics, the power of media to manipulate the mass psyche for corporate interests has never been as obvious. Thus, billions of dollars have been spent by governments to buy up Tamiflu and other drugs for years while anti-poverty and health programs in the Third World gasp for breath.

Still and all, proper nutrition and a strong immune system are the best defense against disease, including the various flu viruses. In countries where the avian flu has struck, Tamiflu has proven ineffective, leaving patients with psychotropic side effects--sometimes lethal--as seen in several of Japan’s suicide cases at that time. Some hospitals in Vietnam , meanwhile, upon sensing the drug’s failure, resorted to nutrition and natural medicines to great results. Fact is, aside from boosting one’s immune system through hygiene and nutrition, a high intake of garlic and ginger is sufficient.

Dr. Patricia A. Doyle, DVA, PhD, BA (Tropical Agricultural Economics) of the University of West Indies makes a plea to the general public not to take any flu vaccines as wrote that she was “one of the people duped into taking a Swine Flu shot and it made me so sick… in bed for three months…”

Furthermore, Canada had a $200-million experiment giving out free flu vaccines; yet per capita flu rates there had not fallen since the program was launched in 2000. The lesson here is that one shouldn’t jump to take medications just because Big Pharma and advertisements say so. Be very suspicious whenever you are barraged with these messages because certain medications--for gas and muscle pains or headaches--will not only empty consumers’ wallets but harm their kidneys and livers as well due to side effects.

There is a belief that the latest swine flu originated not in the alchemy of nature but in the biochemistry of covert laboratories, deliberately released for political or commercial purposes. And there is an established historical precedent to this: Remember the anthrax scare in 2001 which authorities attributed to “terrorists” but was later exposed to be from a US biological warfare laboratory? Similarly, the SARS, avian, and now, swine flu scares have many links to bio warfare sources as exemplified by this quote from Dr. John Carlo of Dallas County Hospital: “This strain of swine influenza that’s been cultured in a laboratory is something that’s not been seen anywhere… so this is actually a new strain of influenza that’s been identified…” Notice the slip?

We in Third World countries, who are frequently made the dumping ground of Big Pharma, should especially be wary about this new “swine-dler’s flu” scare. Let’s not be hoodwinked into shelling out billions for useless vaccines but, instead, direct our health care toward basic public hygiene, health support, and disease prevention.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Sulong Pilipinismo, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Monday with Atty. Alan Paguia, Wednesday with former Mayor Jun Simon, Friday with Ver Eustaquio / May Pag-asa, 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday; Talk News TV, Destiny Cable, Channel 3, 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Tuesday; also visit