Experts have suggested that the H1N1 Swine Flu virus is likely to affect developing countries more because of a less equipped and dependable health care system, because of higher population pressure and because of inadequate resources per capita.
People in the developed world have access to better health care and medical facilities and they have the economic wherewithal to combat illnesses. They are better nourished and are physically better equipped and more able to recover from disease and infection.
It has therefore been suggested that the pattern found in the western world is not the token that can be applied to the less developed and poorer countries, because the people there do not have the same realities. If infections from H1N1 virus are seen as being largely mild and self correcting in most cases in the west, it is not automatically the same in the developing world.
Another factor that may be causing spread of the infection to be underestimated is the fact that the poor portions of the population is usually less educated, inadequately informed and unable to report illnesses because of lack of access or economic ability. Developed nations have a far more effective public health system, so tracking the H1N1 infection and its progression is far easier and more accurate.
The Swine Flu virus has underlined not only the rich and poor nation divide; it has also highlighted a urban and rural segregation by an extension of the same principle. In any case rural areas are far flung and people living in the more remote villages have practically no access to health care because the closest medical facility may be too far to walk to. And this is in normal everyday circumstances.
When there is a pandemic which has its grip on an entire nation, these already underprivileged persons have no recourse: testing facilities for identifying positive swine flu cases are to be found only in bigger urban centers. The rural poor are a low priority in a situation where the educated urban individual is doing his best to jump the queue.
With swine flu what is required is immediate detection of a positive case, isolation of that person by way of a quarantine or isolation ward and quick treatment for indications which look like developing into potentially life threatening complications. Needless to say India’s rural poor are not high on the priority for any of what is required to treat and contain the pandemic.