November 12, 2009

Swine Flu Infects Ukraine’s Politics

It's been in the news since last week that Ukraine has an outbreak of swine flu aka H1N1. Russia, Poland and other neighboring countries overreacted by limiting entrance of Ukrainians across borders. Ukrainian politicians overreacted even more than their foreign peers. Whether the outbreak of swine flu had place, the whole governance system simply folded under exigent circumstances as a house of cards touched by a slight breeze. Politicians did everything what they should not do. Instead of protecting its citizens, the Ukrainian government spread panic and fear among the public.

From UkraineWatch

First, it is very interesting that the government was solely responsible for a panic among the public. The Ukrainian government misinformed citizens about H1N1 outbreak. The World Health Organization says that there was no outbreak of swine flu in Ukraine. The government spread a panic among population when Prime Minister Tymoshenko and the Health Minister announced that Ukraine's Ministry of Health registered a record number of people infected with swine flu somewhere in Western Ukraine. However, the World Health Organization has not confirmed an outbreak of swine flu in Ukraine yet! Moreover, a number of deaths from pneumonia that is a complication of seasonal flu was very far from a critical level. Since "the outbreak of H1N1 flu" (October 29, 2009) Ukraine that is a nation with 46 million people has lost 213 people from pneumonia. Only six cases of the H1N1 infection were confirmed. Several medical doctors have already criticized the Tymoshenko government for misinterpreting data and misinforming the public. The most adamant critic of the government incompetence is Dr. Komarovsky who went on several TV shows to calm down Ukrainians and dissolve a myth about the H1N1 outbreak. The government has already changed its position on the epidemic H1N1 situation by announcing that its preventive measures have already reduced the number of flue infections at least by a factor of four.

Second, instead of H1N1 outbreak, we witnessed, perhaps, a final break in the Orange coalition. When Ukraine's president Yushchenko rushed to ask for medical supplies from Europe in order to fight the nonexistent epidemic swine flu, Ukraine's prime minister Tymoshenko ridiculed him for relying on foreign aid instead of doing something himself. Mrs. Tymoshenko promised Ukrainians that she would provide masks for free at each mobile office of her party across country. President Yushchenko retaliated by filing a law suit to the Supreme Court against the Tymoshenko government for failing to report data on a spread of seasonal flu and holding public rallies during "the outbreak of H1N1 virus".

Third, Mrs. Tymoshenko blatantly used "a fight with swine flu" for the sake of her presidential campaign. She proclaimed a fight with swine flu "the second great trial given by the world to Ukraine after the world financial crisis". She made it clear that H1N1 "outbreak" is her number 1 priority in the ongoing presidential campaign. Mrs. Tymoshenko went to war with the swine flu with such zeal and vigor as Miguel de Cervantes' heroic knight Don Quixote who rode his horse to fight windmills. I guess the WHO officials were really touched by the brave heart of Mrs. Tymoshenko that they reconsidered the status of H1N1 in Ukraine to "assumed outbreak". WOW! Well, it's hard to blame the WHO for still being shy when only six person died with a confirmed H1N1 virus from 250,000 "assumed" infected in a country with 46 million people. I am not a doctor, but it doesn't even look to me as a potential outbreak.

Why and what happened to Ukraine's government? I don't really know. But "H1N1 outbreak" shows once again a "professionalism" of Ukrainian politicians. The "outbreak" also demonstrates that what government can do when it is a group of incompetent self-interested individuals delegated with executive and legislative power and driven by the electoral campaign. This kind of government can't do anything good!

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