20 June, 2009

The epidemic

"A man from a remote Aboriginal community in Western Australia has died after testing positive to swine flu. South Australia's Chief Medical Officer Paddy Phillips says the 26-year old died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital on Friday afternoon. Swine flu has infected nearly 40,000 people around the world in 89 countries and territories, causing 168 deaths since late March, latest World Health Organisation data shows."

However, it is acknowledged that the majority of swine flu fatalities occur when the victims have additional health concerns already present, making the flu more difficult for the individual to battle.

The Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon assured Australians, "we do need to remind the community that for the vast majority of people who contract this flu over the coming months, it will be very mild."

So, essentially, swine flu takes down the weakest in our communities. Is it surprising then that our one and only swine flu fatality was a 26 year-old indigenous man? But, I guess that means we shouldn't worry, because for the vast majority of 'us', the flu will be very mild. I guess I am supposed to be thankful I am in the 'vast majority'?

I am not suggesting that the indigenous community are the only ones struggling in our country, and there is every chance there will be a non-indigenous death to report on next week. However, for me, it is just another disappointing reminder of the disparity between the majority of non-indigenous and indigenous Australians.

So, what are you going to do about it this week?

Genevieve

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