Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Monday, 28 December 2009
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 05:41

學習如何當一個魯凱人

七月盛夏,霧台的魯凱族青年紛紛回到部落,聽族內長者述說他們的傳統智慧與文化,進而學習如何當一個魯凱人。這段影片是關於他們學習的小小記錄。

 

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The speaker talked about the challenges of facing the H1N1 in the Taipei region and how drawing upon previous pandemic experiences helped ensure a successful outcome.

The SARS epidemic of 2003 highlighted the communication difficulties between local government and central government. The command structure was changed in the aftermath of SARS. Under the revised system, the central government operated the command center and local governments executed these commands. This ensured that messages delivered during H1N1 were more consistent.

The government had two phases of dealing with H1N1:
1.Stage of containment – June 2009. Many foreign tourists so hotels used as checkpoints; and
2.Stage of mitigation – September 2009. Coincided with the Deaf Olympics in Taipei. This was at the height of the pandemic. Letters sent to guests.

The 2009 H1N1 campaign was successful because it was simplicity (message was easy to understand), credibility and delivered in a unified voice.
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 01:57

Roles and Limits of Communication

From the Global response to Avian Influenza through Pandemic A/H1N1, towards "One Health"

How much information should governments communicate to the public? How transparent should they be? Should they communicate all the information that they have, or rather leave aside information that could run the risk of being misinterpreted? And should honesty be preferred to transparency?
This question, which characterises all policy-making, is made even more complex here by the existence of what Dr. VANDERSMISSEN called the “scientific dilemma”. Science on the emergence, development and evolution of a pandemic is not fixed – this was clearly exemplified by the emergence of a pandemic of porcine origin in the South American continent, when a pandemic of avian origin was expected to develop in the Southeast Asian region. The pandemic A/H1N1 also turned out to be, until now, far less lethal than originally predicted.
As summarised by Dr VANDERSMISSEN, we have entered an era of “infectious uncertainty”. How much of this uncertainty should be communicated to the public? Would trust/serenity/obedience of an audience, depending on the primary objective of the communication strategy, be best established by a self-confident government who might need to change its message following the evolutions of science? Or by an executive acknowledging the gaps in its information and advising to “keep listening” to possible evolutions in its recommendations?

Dr Vandersmissen's PPT

[inset side="left" title="Alain Vandersmissen"] has been the Coordinator of the External Response of the European Commission to the Avian Influenza Crisis since January 2006. In this capacity, he has strongly contributed to the orientations and achievements of the global AI response. He is one of the promoters of the evolution of the AI response towards a “One Health” approach addressing all major risks at the interface between animals, humans and ecosystems. [/inset]

Monday, 28 December 2009 22:26

The Global Fight Against Avian Influenza

Lessons for the Global Management of Health and Environmental Risks and Crises

The term “Avian Influenza” (AI) refers both to: 1/ the existing and related avian influenza epizooty and epidemic, and 2/ the possibility of an influenza pandemic, that would result from a mutation of the H5N1 virus.

The issue of AI therefore implies two necessities: 1/ the need to control the existing avian influenza virus and 2/ the need to prepare for the next pandemic.

The reaction to the AI issue has thus articulated itself, over the years, in two movements: 1/ a strong solidarity drive, from the better prepared, to the less prepared and 2/ a “national preparedness drive”, as the majority of countries strove to strengthen their own capacity to respond to an AI outbreak/pandemic. The tension between those two dimensions of the management of AI contributed to the build-up of a strong mobilisation, from very different communities (animal health, human health, environmental health, security, media, private sector, etc.). This process of mobilisation resulted in the emergence of what appears to be, with the benefit of hindsight, a real “global fight against avian influenza”, which reaps significant results, as this report highlights. Such a dynamic may not last forever, however, as a lurking fatigue with the issue seems to be spreading amongst actors, and threatening past and current efforts. The new “One World One Health” agenda could, in this regard, prove to be a necessary option to remobilise actors, and consolidate the outcomes of the fight against AI.

Before highlighting some key lessons from the fight against AI, one should draw some key features of the architecture of the global governance of avian influenza.

Which Global Governance of AI?
- Governing AI at the global level has been a fluid process, as it took some time to structure the large range of actors that had mobilised. Today still, as the agenda One World One Health is gains momentum, the exact role played by the different institutions involved in this process
might start to shift again.
- States are the key actors, as they raise political momentum at the global level, and as no possible response/control/preparedness is possible without them.
- Intergovernmental Organisations are very important supporting actors in the fight against AI; it is important in this regard to understand their role and limits. If IOs are faced with some problems
i.e. bureaucratic problems, traditional aid issues), they also proved to be extremely innovative.
- The regional level can have a facilitating effect on the global fight against AI. However, strong discrepancies exist between the regional organisations.
- A strong mobilisation was possible thanks to yearly conferences at the high political level; high political support from the national level: continuity of leadership; simulations; a cautious use of the “security” agenda.
- Coordination, which is always a problem at the global level, appeared to be less of a problem her thanks to global, regional, national and institutional coordinators, who had both a high visibility and sufficient time, and used frequent meetings of all stakeholders to insure coordination worked. UNSIC was useful but not very present on the ground; the question of its persistence in 2009 is still open.
- The Global Governance of AI confirms that strengthening existing organisations and coordination mechanisms can prove more efficient than creating new institutions.

LESSONS from a Global Fight:
- One needs a blend of horizontal and vertical approaches to global health issues to ensure that both animal and human health systems and the specific realities of a given diseases are taken cared of.
- Communication is a key factor.
- Surveillance systems are now better, but they can still be improved, and this needs to be done.
- A rapid emergency response requires long term investment. Even fire brigades have structural costs.
- Decision-making in grey environments implying investing time and money in research, but one should accept the fact that there will never be enough knowledge, and that grey decisions will thus have to be taken.
- Global norms are essentials, but they need to be adapted to local settings. Furthermore, a robust system to check on implementation of global norms needs to be established.
- Controlling epizootic will always imply a risk for livelihoods and an increase in poverty levels. Sustainable financial solutions have to be found. Eradication will always be extremely difficult with complex ecologies and should therefore take place as soon as possible, before the virus spreads.
- The best options to respond to human cases is to strengthen [one] health systems. This implies an increase in the surveillance and response capacity, the distribution of pharmaceutical options, and the surge capacities. Non pharmaceutical options are important, but they cannot replace the medical response.
- Pandemic preparedness is a complex and constant effort. It requires both: 1/specific health efforts and multisectoral efforts to detect and solve gaps and vulnerabilities (importance of simulations); 2/ the recognition that there is no “zero risk”. Indeed, the real issue may be the resilience of the system and its capacity to survive to such a traumatic experience.
- Global Health and the virus-sharing issue would strongly benefit from a reformed WHO sharing system, and more widely a solution has to be found to improve access (included delivery) to drugs and vaccines against emerging diseases of global impact.

The future of AI
Prevention and preparedness efforts are difficult to evaluate. However in terms of surveillance and control, the effects of the fight are positive, and the world seem better prepared now than five years
ago to face an AI pandemic. Will this situation last? AI will remain a problem for some countries where the virus has become endemic and where, as soon as efforts diminish or falter, AI will re-emerge. People are still dying from H5N1. The pandemic risk will last. The fight is not over.

In July 2008, several persons interviewed in Washington D. C. were positive that if Senator Obama were to be elected, more funding would be dedicated for the management of global health issues and health systems. However, the advent of the financial crisis may make health issues appear like less of a priority for many decision-makers.

A new momentum has to be raised, for global health, for “One World One Health”, and for AI.
Read here the complete report
Monday, 28 December 2009 20:03

Renovate the riverside for a new city image

Creating free public spaces

The cleanup of the Danshui River has already produced a gradual improvement in its water quality. Combined with the development of wetlands it has formed an ecological corridor which also provides an alternative for urban sewage treatment, meeting with the energy saving, low carbon emission objectives of a sustainable city. The next step is to make the creation of urban open space for the Taipei metropolitan area, a part of the overall environmental policy.

The main necessary condition of an urban open space is that of public accessibility. When building an open space, it must be open to the public. The public should be aware of these places, have access to and be able to conduct their activities in these spaces and the spaces should be connected to the public transport routes, such as bicycles, walk paths and so on.

In addition to this, how open an open space is, depends on the freedom it provides. Contrary to normal urban construction areas, open spaces are far more than a part coloured in green on a land use map. They should provide the potential for spontaneous activity which the citizens are free to choose and it should encourage social interactions. It is for these reasons that the community building work currently being promoted with the Amis Sijhou tribes on Xindian Riverside in Taipei County has extra significance.

The rich city culture of the urban Aborigine tribes

The Sijhou tribes are located on the Xindian waterfront. Both the flood prevention path and part of a bicycle trail pass in front of the Sijhou tribe. When the middle class families from the city cycle the bike routes during their leisure time, they pass by the Sijhou tribe and see our community gathering and eating areas enhanced by the friendly, hospitable atmosphere of the Amis. This community eating space, which is called Badousi in the Ami language, also displays the vitality of this Ami community.

This Ami settlement on the riverside, is most certainly not a dark corner of the city, nor is it built illegally. On the contrary, the Xindian Sijhou tribes bring the ocean culture all the way from the Hualien-Taidong coastline. Since migrating to the cities, the culture now manifests itself as a lively social interaction space in our urban open space. Thus, they must not be marginalised outside the city.

The Sijhou housing issue therefore warrants the ending of selfish interests from those at Taipei County’s Water Resources Bureau and the Indigenous People’s Bureau, amongst others. They must break through the undue legal and formal restrictions, to create an opportunity for an historical breakthrough on Taiwan’s urban Aborigine housing rights. Resolving this problem will allow the Environmental Protection Bureau to build on their success cleaning the Danshui River and the Water Resources Bureau to continue cleaning the Sijhou area of the river, at the same time further enriching Taipei’s urban culture.

I must emphasise that the Ami are people of the water who they do not fear rivers and oceans. They are different from the Han Chinese so deeply rooted to the land and are even further from bureaucratic culture and the rationale of modern engineering. The Ami knowledge of the wetlands combined with their agricultural production and fishing operations, makes for an excellent cultural and ecological classroom. The Sijhou urban Aborigine culture is not merely a marginal culture waiting to be reeled in and integrated by the government; furthermore, Taipei’s urban culture is not one full of ideological bias, one that disregards citizens of different ethnicities, sex or class, and one where all conform to an identical urban culture. The Xindian Sijhou tribes are part of the city, and urban aborigines are citizens.

Following the shaven head protest by the indigenous movement with film director Hou Hsiao-hsien on Ketagalan Boulevard, the strong support from the Mayor of Taipei County Chou Hsi-wei, the efforts of the Water Resources Bureau and a whole year of participation on the design by the students and teachers at NTU’s Graduate School of Building and Planning, we have now reached the final mile in the plan for the Amis culture park. We call for the National Property Administration to use the cheap rent model employed on school land in the USA and for the Indigenous Peoples Bureau to compile a register of the remaining inhabitants in the Sijhou Ami Culture Park area so that an official document requesting support with expenses can be presented to the central Council of Indigenous Peoples, allowing for the commencement of the next stage of the building process. This last bit of effort is still required for the realisation of this beautiful dream.


Remodelling space, reshaping our urban image

The wetlands and the ecological corridor of the Danshui River are also areas of open land with water flowing through them; thus they are also the borders between districts. No matter which shore of the river one is on, when one looks back over the city you get a special view of the skyline, helping us to know the city and creating a unique urban image. Therefore the relaxing of restrictions and size management for urban design should compliment the remodelling of our urban image rather than working under commercial and developmental pressures and giving up controls on size and height, leading to an enormous quantity but exaggerated density, and a lack of variety in the size of constructions. This damage is a legacy of the rapid urban development administered in Taipei County and also a burden of the Urban and Rural Development Bureau.

The remodelling of the urban open space on the Danshui riverside is a new opportunity to recreate our urban image. The limits on construction on both sides of the Danshui River are indeed too relaxed and the skyline is too homogeneous, appearing flat and uninteresting. Crossing the river during the daytime, is nothing like experiencing the picturesque River Seine in Paris, nor is the night time crossing anything in comparison to the silhouette of Shanghai’s Huangpu River or the Pearl River in Guangzhou. Therefore if there are some high-rise buildings to serve as landmarks, it could help strengthen our urban identity.

Translated from Chinese by Nick Coulson
(Photo by Wu Jinyong)

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