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Who Pays to Stop a Pandemic?

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  • Who Pays to Stop a Pandemic?

    Who Pays to Stop a Pandemic?

    New York Times
    February 9, 2007

    BIRD flu has not yet turned into a pandemic, but it is already killing the meager hopes of some of the world?s poorest people for a marginally better life.

    When poultry become infected with the deadly strain of avian influenza (H5N1), it is essential that all birds nearby be culled to prevent further spread. We all stand to benefit from this important pandemic prevention strategy, recommended by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Unfortunately, however, the world?s poor are unfairly shouldering the burden of the intervention.

    Last month officials in Jakarta, Indonesia, announced a ban on household farming of poultry there. The domestic bird population of Jakarta is estimated at 1.3 million. Thousands of families were given until Feb. 1 to consume, sell or kill their birds. Now inspectors are going door to door to destroy any remaining birds.

    The Indonesian government pledged to pay about $1.50 for each bird infected with the H5N1 virus, a sum that may approximate the bird?s fair market value. But most birds that have been killed under this policy are healthy, so their owners, most reports suggest, will receive nothing.


  • #2
    Re: Who Pays to Stop a Pandemic?

    Welcome to the forum.

    Thanks also for posting that fine article in the Bellagio forum.

    It had been posted in regular news, with some discussion, at

    "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation


    • #3
      Re: Who Pays to Stop a Pandemic?

      Welcome Bellagio - Fabulous blog.

      What most persons need to remember is that this poultry usually represents 100% of the net worth of these individuals.

      Many independent poultry farmers are driven under financially. Some even commit suicide. Most are forced to accept life under a corporate umbrella.

      Those who have large working capital (cash) are the ones to survive.

      From December 2006 - India:

      Prices soar as poultry farmers chicken out

      <IFRAME style="WIDTH: 13px; HEIGHT: 9px" align=right marginWidth=5 vspace=5 marginHeight=0 src="" frameBorder=0 width=240 scrolling=no height=400 bordercolor="#000000"> </IFRAME><!--google_ad_region_start=article-->
      HYDERABAD: It's festival time once again with Christmas and New Year round the corner. But if you want to celebrate this season by chewing on chicken legs, then chew on this: Chicken prices are going up and this northward movement is likely to go on till February.

      Reason: Besides the increased festival demand, supplies have dwindled because of the bird flu scare a few months ago. That scare had led to heavy losses for the poultry industry.

      The effect of this is now being felt by the consumer. The retail price of dressed chicken in the market in Hyderabad is as much as Rs 74 to Rs 78 per kg.

      "Several farmers stopped rearing chicken in the aftermath of the bird flu scare and a chicken-hearted poultry industry was also not willing to take chances. The rearing of birds fell drastically,"says an industry analyst.

      "The prices will be high at least till February. The situation will improve for the consumer only after that,"said K Narayana Reddy, president, AP Poultry Federation.

      At the height of the bird flu scare, chicken prices had fallen to Rs 25 to 35 per kg but even then there were no takers.

      At some places, chicken and eggs were distributed free. Although the Centre later declared that there was no bird flu in the country, the damage had already been done. Poultry farmers and the industry either restricted or stopped rearing broiler chicken altogether. "It is because of the limited production that the prices are high now. It is only two to three months ago that new initiatives to increase production began,"said A Gopal Reddy, member of National Poultry Development Council.

      But there is also another reason for the high cost of chicken in the market.

      Most small poultry farmers badly beaten by the bird flu scare stopped rearing chicken and to get into 'corporate farming'.

      This in poultry industry parlance is called 'integration'. Under this system, corporates in the poultry industry offer to buy live birds from the farmer at Rs 2 to Rs 2.50 per kg.

      The chicks and feed are provided by the corporates. After seven weeks of the bird growing, they are bought back by the corporates which offer the poultry farmer the margin, which is offset as the labour cost.

      According to poultry industry sources, despite the bird flu scare dissipating, at least 30 per cent of sheds of the poultry farmers are empty and even if farmers want to start their business again, they have no working capital to invest.

      "The concept of 'integration' is working towards the poultry farmers disadvantage because the price he is getting from the corporates is not reasonable. Farmers themselves have to bear the cost of the shed, gas, water and the equipment,"Gopal Reddy said.



      • #4
        Re: Who Pays to Stop a Pandemic?

        The important thing about this article, to me, is that of all the cases of unfair payments, this is the one case where the profiteer will also pay.

        To explain, the developed world often maintains their wealth by not paying the full cost of their cheap goods, i.e., the environmental, health, social costs incurred in keeping products more affordable is not included in the price of the product, nor will the consumer ever pay that price.

        However in the case of H5N1, the price of ignoring those costs will be borne by the wealthy. Developed nations would be shooting themselves in the foot to view this cost with the same "business as usual" attitude toward the impacts on the world's poor.

        "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation