On March 31, Gov. Mills proclaimed, “We are in the midst of one of the greatest public health crises this world has seen in more than a century.” The governor’s leadership in the face of the COVID-19 challenge should be applauded, but we should also put this pandemic in balanced perspective. The governor’s proclamation is not accurate on any dimension.

Let us not forget that HIV/AIDS was heralded as an epidemic in 1981, and since then has killed over 25 million people. AIDS continues to destroy countless lives in Africa, with some regions suffering an infection rate of up to 25 percent.

Let us not forget about the 390 million dengue virus infections per year, with 96 million manifesting severe disease. Let us not forget about the more than 800 million people who do not consume enough food, the 156 million children who are stunted from malnutrition, the 50 million children under 5 years of age who suffer from wasting. Let us not forget about the hundreds of thousands of sick migrants in refugee camps in North Africa.

The world continues to experience public health crises of truly overwhelming magnitude; perhaps this new coronavirus pandemic will raise our “First World” awareness to the extent that we no longer fail to address even more terrifying and far-reaching health crises across the globe.


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