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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sound Off: Bird Flu, State Democratic Party & 2006 Legislative Session

Editor's Note: Here's an Open Letter to Progressive Democrats from Stephen Fettig. You're encouraged to read the entire post and respond as requested by the writer, who'd like to start a dialogue on this topic.

Dear Progressive Democrats:

I am asking that each of you listen to the October 19 program of Democracy Now with Amy Goodman.  You can download the program or listen to it on-line at http://www.democracynow.org/.  I don't make this request lightly.  I feel that the information presented in this program touches directly the topics of health care, security, mismanagement by governments (at all levels) and public trust in our political leaders.

The segment that I want you to listen to is the interview with Mike Davis author of the new book, "The Monster At Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu."  Davis says, "2005 is the year in which avian flu, now has acquired a critical mass amongst birds that it won't be eradicated and it's unclear whether it can be contained.  We are facing a clear threat in the next few year of a flu pandemic that could be more deadly than in 1918 when between 20-40 million people dead worldwide.

Davis makes these points among others:

1) The idea proposed by the administration to use the military to quarantine parts of the country, if needed, would not work.  People are contagious with the flu 24 hours before showing symptoms.  Also some people can be contagious and never show symptoms.  So a quarantine would not work biologically.  This is another example of the lies and poor planning proposed by our current leaders.

2) One of the largest threats to our population is the number of people without health insurance or access to health care.  These uninsured folks will increase the danger to the whole population because they will not be able to seek health care in an timely manner, leading to greater deadliness of any flu pandemic.

3) The government is wasting large amounts of money on biological threats that have an extremely low likelihood of happening, such as a biological terrorist event.  The known and real threat of a deadly flu pandemic is getting very little attention and funding.  We know that governments at all levels knew about the problems with the levees around New Orleans prior to Hurricane Katrina, but funding was still cut for action that would have prevented the disaster.  If a flu pandemic hits the U.S. we can expect our health care system to be hit with an event 30 times the size of Katrina.  We need realistic priorities for our public health and safety dollars, and we need those realistic priorities now.

4) The great flu pandemic of 1918 infected 28% of all Americans.  An estimated 675,000 Americans died of influenza during the pandemic, ten times as many as in world war I.  We can expect a similar death rate or higher because our government is not prepared:  We don't have the anti-viral drugs on hand and we are extremely short of hospital beds as a result of our current health care industry.

I'm asking that each of you listen to the October 19 interview with Mike Davis and then provide me with action suggestions for the New Mexico Democratic Party.  Can we use the information that Davis provides, then insist that the party and the governor make increasing funding for health care a core focus of the 2006 New Mexico legislative session?

Your thoughts?

Stephen Fettig
At-Large elected Member
State Platform and Resolution Committee
New Mexico Democratic Party

October 19, 2005 at 03:49 PM in Sound Off! | Permalink