The Doctor’s Get Their “Say” About Rio 2016
by Amy Lignor
The news headlines have been constant; the pictures have been awful. There is no way to hide the fact that our men and women athletes will be walking directly into – not to mention, the rest of the world’s athletes who are coming to win their Olympic medals from all corners of the earth – the rapid spread of the Zika virus. Although debates have gone back and forth, the Olympics are still being held in Rio, causing the concerns of spreading the virus to steadily go off the charts. In other words, the people who run the Olympics and the ones who run Rio have stated that it’s clean “enough” and that nothing bad will happen. Oddly enough, these same people in power have not jumped in to go for a swim in order to prove that their claims are correct.
Now, a group of 150 doctors, scientists and bioethicists have joined together to write a letter, which was sent to the World Health Organization, stating that the Rio Olympics must be postponed or moved completely. Citing very definite concerns and factual evidence about furthering the spread of the virus, the group is also questioning the WHO. They are wondering if the WHO is simply rejecting all advice and requests to move the Olympics because they somehow have a conflict of interest (in other words, an agreement of business/money) with the International Olympic Committee already set in place.
This is all about global health. Even sport shows like, “Mike & Mike” on ESPN have offered the people in power in Rio money to take themselves and their families into the disgusting waters that reside there. So far, no takers.
This group’s letter was put in perfect context. “Currently, many athletes, delegations, and journalists are struggling with the decision of whether to participate in the Rio 2016 Games. We agree with the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control) recommendation that workers should ‘consider delaying travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission’. If that advice were followed uniformly, no athlete would have to choose between risking disease and participating in a competition that many have trained for their whole lives.”
It is apparent with the research that the possibility of Olympic travelers acquiring the Zika virus in Rio, and then returning home, especially to currently unaffected areas, will bring it back with them. And once it begins, it will run rampant. As far as this group is concerned, the risk is not only stupid, it’s unethical. Just so the Olympic Games can move forward and Rio can make some cash, it seems that no one understands that it could be postponed or moved to another place quite easily.
The World Health Organization answered almost immediately, which means it looks dangerously like they have made up their minds and nothing at this point will matter. The frightening part is that their return statement included this: “Based on current assessment, cancelling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus. Brazil is one of almost 60 countries and territories which to-date report continuing transmission of Zika by mosquitoes. People continue to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons. The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health and travel advice.”
These words came from the same organization that declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency back in February, with Brazil being one of the countries hardest hit…up until now, anyway.
The still-talking Olympic organizers have been sending in pictures and discussing how they have been patrolling Rio for months; working to remove all standing water where this particular mosquito can breed. They also continually talk about the fact that being winter in Rio, the virus is not as likely to be contracted and spread during Game time.
The CDC, however, has already issued their statement telling pregnant women not to go to Rio. For those who decide to go anyway; they further advise that long sleeves and pants treated with insect repellant is a must, and that staying in air-conditioned locales the whole time needs to be done.
But the medical/science group definitely wants WHO to reconsider. Even if the individual risk is lower in the winter, they say that the risk to an entire population is “undeniably high.” Rio de Janeiro is highly affected at the moment; its health is weak, and the city has cut funding against mosquito-borne diseases.
In millions of minds, Rio not bending an inch is simply because they want the cash that the Olympics brings. On the other side of the fence, there is a spirit to the Olympics that makes people want to be a part of them. The athletes will risk anything to vie for the medals they have so long been training to capture.
But when taking the need, desire and – oh, yes, the money for the country away – you are left with a public health danger that could reach worldwide. By not postponing or outright moving the Games from Rio, health, welfare and ethical consequences will go from being extremely irresponsible into a downright nightmare.
Source: Baret News