Human Rights ?
Almost 60 years ago, on December 10, 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration stipulates: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty. However, is this really the case? I just wonder…
Globalization has become a reality and is affecting us all in today’s world. This phenomenon touching your neighbors will sooner or later affect you. If your neighbor’s house is on fire, your house might catch fire too. Heath issues are not
immune; this can be perhaps even more striking. Viruses do not know any borders, so no matter where you live, no
matter what you do - we are all facing the same threats; whether it is a disease, epidemic, or something more "normal" such as the flu.
One high-ranking health official said recently: We must never lose sight of what a pandemic can mean under the unique conditions of the 21st century. SARS taught us how much the world has changed in terms of its vulnerability to the economic and social disruption caused by a new disease. And SARS was by no means a global event. It was not a pandemic. SARS was largely a disease confined to the hospitals of wealthy cities.
Think of what may be in store. The last influenza pandemic began in 1968. At that time, airlines were not carrying more than 2 billion passengers each year, as they do today. HIV/AIDS was unknown in 1968. Tuberculosis had not resurged as a global threat. At that time, in 1968, the world did not have the internet, which has spawned global interdependence in so many areas. This interdependence has greatly amplified the economic and social disruption that new diseases can cause. Pandemics are recurring events. Countries need to brace themselves for a situation where up to 25% of the workforce may be ill at a given time. They have to brace themselves for a possible meltdown of basic municipal services and a slowdown of economic activity. And this situation will be occurring globally. There will be no fortunate unaffected parts of the world.
Did you know that there are five territories or states with millions of people who are virtually excluded from the "international community"? Since they are not connected to the international community, they do not get timely information nor do they have access to advice on appropriate health measures if a disaster strikes or various threats are on their way. Although they might have the best trained doctors and excellent health facilities, how can they take preventative measures or protect themselves against maladies if they, for instance, do not get the latest update on a pandemic or a virus epidemic? What about the populations of these territories? Aren’t they human beings with the same rights as others? There are some issues that should not be subject to international politics, the health issue being one of them. Politicians and diplomats can argue, deliberate and discuss the polemics; but when it comes to health, everybody should at a minimum, have access to preventative information so that innocent people can be protected.
As a true humanitarian once said "When a disaster happens somewhere - I will never look at somebody’s passport to say - Sorry, I cannot help." So, let us only hope that others will follow...
On these thoughts I wish you a good day!