Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mexico and the Swine Flu

The current outbreak in Mexico, fastly moving to different countries, presents itself as a great challenge, not only for authorities in Mexico City and Federal Government, but to all of us. We must learn to live a reality that struck one of the worst weaknesses of Mexico. A poor public health care system and the expensive private one.

Even though the probability of contagion is lower than having a car accident (yet) people is taking great caution. Maybe a good reason to be in panic is that if one gets sick, one is on the impression that health care system is particularly bad. Moreover, symptoms are easily mistaken with other kinds of flu, so going to the hospital at the least sign is an equilibrium strategy.

It is often written and said that ignorance is the mother of panics and chaos, media and governments at all levels have put a lot of effort to inform population about contagion means and preventive measures. They also have created a soup words in terms of the severe consequences of the illness. A common citizen must distinguish between probable cases of swine flu, corroborated cases and deaths.

So maybe the number of deaths, although considerably high for a flu, is lower than deaths claimed at traffic accidents related to alcohol. The very nature of this kind of disease is the reason that creates scarcity of anti-viral medicine and mask faces all over the country. One can not know instantaneously if is contaminated or not. A whole lab test is necessary. Panic would be certainly less if we all were doctors, or if we all could have a home test for it. But there is not, and timely attention is critical in the odds of get cured, so the equilibrium strategy is the same.

But one should take a second and evaluate that if one is contaminated with low probability with the swine flu, going to a hospital will only increase -exponentially- the probability of being contaminated. A self-fulfilling disease arise then. Because one entered the hospital without the swine flu, but walked out with it, contaminating people around.

The best way to go is getting all the RELIABLE OFFICIAL INFORMATION there is,and take all precautions, we will not always live in this Saramago-like setting. Patience and precautions.

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