Let us compare epidemics
The H1N1 virus has captured media attention, as well as substantial funding for task forces, response plans and research, particularly as increasingly more deaths have been linked to it. As has been observed many times, the 'media life' of a virus depends in large part on the extent to which citizens (especially ordinary citizens) of North America and Europe are affected by it, or are likely to be affected by it. When the centers of the world's power is under viral threat, vast resources may be mobilized, even if the numbers in terms of morbidity and mortality are, relatively speaking, small. Worse epidemics, elsewhere, receive much less press and support.
The point was not lost on those aware that today was World Pneumonia Day. Pneumonia is the greater killer of children worldwide. It is responsible for more deaths in children (2 million a year) than HIV/AIDS, measles and malaria combined. The tragedy is that we long ago developed effective vaccines to prevent it, and antibiotics to treat it, but it generally affects children away from the centers of the world's power, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia. While many lives could be saved in delivering known effective medicines to these populations, there is not much money to be made in the endeavor, so rallying support for pneumonia initiatives tends to be an uphill battle. But it is a matter of fighting the good fight, a matter of trying to regain some sense of proportion, and a matter of not being entirely distracted by the latest virus on the 24-hour news cycle.