I did a TV interview with CHCH-TV (a Hamilton affiliate of CanWest Global) on avian flu this morning. With me on the show were former Chief Medical Officer Richard Schabas and McMaster researcher Mark Loeb. Let me be as clear with you as I was with their producers: I am not an avian flu expert. I am an epidemiology generalist and a researcher in international health. As such, I was prepared to discuss avian flu in the context of other global diseases demanding public attention and funds. I had nonetheless studied the most recent influenza policy documents of both Health Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Health.
About 30 seconds into the interview, my audio cut out. That’s right. I have no idea what was being said or what questions were being asked of me. But just before that moment, I did gather that the assembled persons were more interested in determining whether the WHO and the CDC are trustworthy stewards of the Power To Declare Pandemic; it’s a leftover Ontario bitterness over the whole SARS thing. I really don’t care about such political nonsense, though it seemed that’s the way the discussion was headed.
So it’s probably a good thing I was shut out of further commentary. The things I care about –global disease surveillance, the 10/90 gap, increasing funding and public awareness of basic vaccination needs of children, the diarrhea pandemic and simply caring about the Developing World– were not going to be on the table.
I learned my lesson. While I’m thankful to CHCH for considering me, it clearly was not a good fit. I’ll vet my media opportunities better in the future.