Black Dawn: The Next Pandemic

The World Health Organization has an RSS feed for Disease Outbreak News. Right now you’ll find a lot of information about the avian influenza situation in Turkey. The same information is available on a companion web page.

Last week I made the mistake of watching Black Dawn: The Next Pandemic, a fifth estate special on CBC Television. This is a “fact-based docu-drama” that takes the viewer through a fictional avian influenza pandemic as it spreads around the world. The essential message of the special was “there’s very little you can do except wash your hands, and you have a pretty good chance of dying anyway.” I can only assume that their goal was to shake us out of complacency; on that level, they did their job.

Unfortunately they dropped the ball on the “steps you can take to mitigate the problem” end of things, leaving we viewers to simply cower in fear. They did prepare a Answers to Questions page that is somewhat helpful, but the program itself could have used a companion hour with practical advice: show us the best way to wash our hands, for example. Run through a checklist of good items to have around the house. Offer suggestions for doing things like shopping during a pandemic.

If the pandemic is, as the special suggests, inevitable, it would seem a prudent use of broadcast time to concentrate on offering useful, practical advice now instead of waiting until it’s too late and we’re all wrapped up in panic.