According to Christian tradition and teaching, two thousand and twenty years ago a shepherd and his pregnant wife were faced with sleeping on the street. An Innkeeper was merciful and allowed them to use the stable where, later in the night, the wife delivered her firstborn son. By modern standards, delivering in a stable with hay, animals and their smells, no hot water, and dim lighting would be thought of as reckless, substandard.
The celebration of Christmas typically brings memories from childhood and for persons of faith it brings strong and important reflection on the meaning of Christmas as expressed in the Holy Bible. Along with reflection comes a towering sense of charity amongst people as reflected in year end giving to charities, the Salvation Army, Feed the Family and food banks and others who do great work with thousands of families. Some specifically target people “living on the street”.
In his TED talk in 2015, Bill Gates warned the world: there will be another pandemic soon. He warned governments to get prepared by developing good plans and doing “Germ Games, not War Games”. He said no need to panic but we need to get going to be ready for the next epidemic. Using the problems with combating the Ebola outbreak in 2014 he showed that the world is not ready, that the WHO is not the body to mobilize resources and systems, that there is a need for an overall global health system to respond to outbreaks.
As our Emergency Measures Leaders will attest, proper planning is a tough discipline and it is often difficult to get busy people to take emergency preparedness seriously. It is difficult to mobilize political support because it has little electoral appeal. For those of us in the health professions, it is much more satisfying to look after sick people, frail elders, accident victims and those with terminal illness than to invest hours in planning for the unimaginable.
How much relevant pandemic planning has taken place since 2015? None that would be recognized.
Ken McGeorge, BS,DHA,CHE is a career health care executive based in Fredericton, NB, Canada.