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Which One Is Deadlier? Swine Flu or Malaria?

The perpetual confusion in my mind about how this world works in general , what matters and what does not matter has just grown more intense after looking at the current swine flu panic spread worldwide.

The Times of India headline talks about spread of Swine flu in India. A few more fatalities were reported. Hundreds of new infections were reported as well.

There is no doubt that if a life can be saved, it should be saved. But I have a question. If a disease claiming a thousand lives worldwide gets so much attention, then how much attention a disease claiming one million lives per year, year after year, should get? And then why, in last 20 years, we have never seen a newspaper headline about Malaria?

Yes, Malaria claims far more lives (of order of million lives per year) than SARS, Swine Flu and most of these well publicized diseases combined. And it does consistently, year after year, decade after decade. Only difference is these lives lost are not located in developed or developing world. Many of them are poor children in Sub Saharan Africa and Asia.

I am not usually the one to cry conspiracy. But I cannot help wonder why the diseases that can be cured by vaccine are getting far more publicity? It would be foolish to claim that someone is purposely unleashing viruses. I am not saying that. But by raising the panic level, the big pharma companies stand to benefit hugely.

Forget whether the tree falling in remote jungle makes noise or not. Ask yourself another question. If a million children die in remote rural areas, and the death is not reported in any newspaper, then is it a news? If no one in modern world (this includes urban part of developing nations like India)  contacts the disease, then is it a epidemic?


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