SARS. Bird flu. Contaminated dog food. Contaminated pharmaceuticals. Chickens held off the market. Pigs dying.
“Food fear” is real. There is and should be real fear about the way China, or at least many Chinese firms involved, handle their responsibilities in food and feed manufacturing and development.
Every once in a while a journalist gets to go back into the archieves and find something that was “relevant then and even more important now”.
On Sunday, May 4, 2003, The Washington Times published an article I wrote about SARS. To refresh the memory, SARS is Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
That May 2003 piece was titled “China’s Ham-Handed SARS Response: Omen of The Future In Disease Control?”
The following are some of the quotes or “out takes” from that 2003 essay:
“China is a particularly dangerous nation when envisioning the future of viral infections.”
“It seems as if the Chinese were very slow to react once people started to get sick and die ….. It might have taken the Chinese government two months to even admit that there was a problem.”
“The disease spread to Beijing and Shanghai. Government officials basically fired the mayor of Beijing and his health minister for their apparent cover-up of the extent and importance of the disease.”
“In Chagugang town, up to 2000 villagers torched a school earmarked as a SARS quarantine center. The villagers didn’t want the SARS infected in their neighborhood.”
“We also learned that China lacks sufficient medications, medical staff and hospital facilities to properly service their own population.”
“The World Health Organization estimated that only about 4% of China’s medical professions were prepared for a disease like SARS.”
“SARS deaths are still on the rise in China even though they have stabilized or fallen in Singapore, Vietnam and elsewhere.”
“China has not had a methodical, rigid, disciplined approach to solving this problem. China produced lots of furious activity but much of it ineffective and only for show.
Big headlines boasted that all movie theaters, internet café’s, etc. were closed. But if you really wanted to look around and find an internet café open for business you could. As you enter, they wash your hands with disinfectant and give you a face mask. These are questionable prevention techniques at best. Isolation by quarantine has proven to be the most effective prevention and control method.”
“My colleague in China e-mailed me from an internet café in Beijing right after every newspaper there claimed that the cafes were closed.”