As the panic and chaos associated with swine flu spreads across South Africa, one gets a sense that the government and other powers that be, are doing very little to educate the masses.
One would expect to see a fully fledged educational and awareness campaign, but alas so far we see a snippet here and there, mainly focusing on the latest infections or casualties.
It is no longer a laughing matter as it was when people created puns and jokes about how Thabo Mbeki must have said, " Pigs will fly before Zuma succeeds me as President," and lo and behold, "Swine flu!"
Instead a stigma smacking of the olden day HIV/ Aids stigma seems to be adhering itself to the N1H1 virus. Upon sneezing or coughing in public, one quickly senses the stares and worried expressions that one attracts.
Medical laboratories have been overwhelmed by panicky flu and common cold sufferers wanting to test for the dreaded infection. A great deal of this stems from ignorance. Telling such a person that to avoid the virus's resistance to medication, drugs cannot be dished out willy-nilly and that not everyone with a runny nose can be
tested, leads to more confusion.
The government has to act swiftly to give out more appropriate information to contain the spread of the virus, enlighten people about the symptoms, allay unfounded fears and curb the spread of falsehoods pertaining to N1H1.
Less political rhetoric and more talk about real life challenges is needed as in yesterday!