According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza resulted in 12,000 to 61,000 deaths annually since 2010 in the United States alone. Globally, as many as 646,000 deaths result from the seasonal flu every year. In my home state, there were 13 influenza-related deaths during the most recent flu season.
In spite of these terrible statistics, most readers are probably more familiar with headlines like this that frequently fill our social media timelines:
The reality of the times we live in versus where we direct our attention is a struggle of discernment which we all need to be actively fighting. Keep this in mind as the current Wuhan flu/Chinese coronavirus stories soak your news sources today and in the course of the next week.
This virus is a real and serious issue, but the media is also working to gain your attention. This is often achieved with irresponsible and sensational headlines where the root intent is winning your money by way of clicks to their web page. The dollars earned are frequently more important than the truth and facts being reported by these media conglomerates. Be careful who and what you believe, not to mention who and what you allow to guide your life.
Consider this, what is driving your need for information in the face of this coronavirus panic? What is the response when you become informed? People of faith should not be driven by fear and their systems of interface with the world should not fill them with fear. I encourage every reader to utilize this moment to test your own response systems. Are we people of fear or of power, love and a sound mind?
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Tomorrow we are releasing a new podcast episode on the coronavirus that will focus on the facts. My guests will include a physician. Until then, check out these four stories from recent months that received far less attention in the media but should be just as concerning as the coronavirus. It is worth considering why the media has been less focused on these crises than they are currently focused on the coronavirus.
Polio Is Back
In 1988 the World Health Organization set a goal to eradicate polio by the year 2000. The mission was not accomplished but the world came close even while the effort continues.
At the beginning of the 20th century, polio reached epidemic proportions even within the industrialized world. Polio was the major fear of parents when it came to diseases. Every summer different areas of the globe would see a flare-up of polio. In 1952 the US saw 58,000 reported cases of polio and 3,000 deaths. At the peak of the epidemic polio infected 350,000 people a year.
In the middle of the 20th century, a vaccination for polio was developed and rapidly changed the dynamics of the fight against the disease. In the United States, a country where President Roosevelt lived with the crippling effects of polio, polio was eradicated in 1979 thanks to the vaccination.
But now that success story is changing. Recent reports from the World Health Organization in 2019 noted a rise in vaccine-derived polioviruses. There were around 100 cases last year in a list of countries that included the Philippines, China, Myanmar, Pakistan, Nigeria, Congo, Central African Republic, and Angola.
More than 5,000 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo died from a major measles outbreak in 2019. This outbreak was not restricted only to the DRC. According to the World Health Organization, 2019 was the third year in a row of a worsening global outbreak of measles. A disease once considered eliminated can no longer be considered that way in many countries around the world today.
In December I wrote about the measles outbreak in Samoa where things deteriorated to such a state the entire country was declared a state of emergency. By the end of November 2019, there were nearly half a million reported cases of measles worldwide. The United States reported its highest measles outbreak in 25 years last year.
Measles preys upon the young. Children under the age of five accounted for most of the 140,000 annual measles deaths.
Dengue Cases Surge Around the Globe
Dengue is a mosquito-borne virus that transmits flu-like symptoms to humans and can be lethal.
As the effects of climate change increased in recent years there was a surge of dengue cases around the world. Dengue was present in less than ten countries in the 1970s but today it has spread to 120 countries. Doctors and medical scientists explain that dengue is literally spreading out of the tropics and into the rest of the world.
Nearly half of the world’s population is now at risk of dengue. There is no vaccine or cure for dengue. Between 50 million and 100 million cases of dengue are diagnosed annually.
Global Health Security Index
In October the Global Health Security Index (GHSI) report was published with a warning that 195 nations (that’s basically the entire world) around the world are unprepared for a pandemic – the US was included in this list.
Included in the GHSI findings:
- Factors driving down the U.S. score included the risks of social unrest, terrorism, and low public confidence in the government.
- Only three percent of countries demonstrated a commitment to prioritize services for health-care workers who became sick as a result of participating in public health responses.
- Nearly all, 89%, countries did not possess a system for dispensing medical countermeasures during a health emergency.
- Security checks were among the weakest points as 89% of countries did not show evidence of requiring security checks for personnel with access to dangerous biological materials or toxins