Saturday, 12 February 2011

Mosquito-borne diseases in Europe

The prevailing popular understanding of global poverty and disease, brought about perhaps by fundraising campaigns, perhaps by media coverage, perhaps by something else, results in disease and poverty being primarily associated with the far-away, much pitied 'other'. The flip-side of this, in the developed world, is that disease and poverty are part of the reality at home, resulting in all sorts of self-doubt, helplessness and victim mentalities, but also making it sometimes difficult for people from the 'developing world' to think of or accept disasters, poverty and disease in the 'developed world'. One begins to internalise the narrative that 'all bad things happen in Africa'. Stories stories about dictators, droughts, famines and tropical diseases are automatically assumed to be about Africa. It is easy to forget that problems are not neatly contained by the imagined gaps between 'developing' and 'developed'.

Like malaria. In 2010, Spain reported its first local case of malaria, according to this Global Health blog post. Chikungunya was first transmitted locally in Europe in Italy in 2007 and two cases were reported in France last year. Dengue was transmitted locally in France and Croatia in the same year. West Nile Virus has also been seen in various countries, with a large outbreak in Greece.

Cynically, it is easy to wonder if publicising these outbreaks would increase interest in and support for efforts to deal with mosquito-borne diseases in Africa. Either way, realities like this challenge the persistent, pervasive idea that suffering, hunger and dying-of-disease only happen in Africa (and/or Latin America/Asia).

h/t Humanosphere

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