12. History Repeating Itself?
Gordon Brown is clearly still enjoying a prolonged honeymoon period. It must be so. Under ordinary circumstances it would be no surprise to see him suffer for being a leading member of a government that has overseen the second outbreak in 6 years of the debilitating Foot and Mouth disease. Instead it seems that much of the early analysis offers cautious approval for the decisive action and serious attitude for this outbreak that was so glaringly absent the first time around.
The lessons learnt from the events of 2001 were that a speedy reaction was vital if an outbreak was to be successfully contained. In particular, appropriate measures such as restriction of livestock movements, vaccination, and culls must be taken quickly even though such measures are often painful, economically, politically and psychologically.
In 2001 the government dithered because the aforementioned measures would each have, in varying ways, a major cost. This time around, the memory of the resultant disaster is fresh in the memory of this government and swift action is taken.
I only bring all this up because the last major outbreak before 2001 occurred in 1967 and the conclusions of the resulting inquiry advocated many of the same measures as those recommended after the events of 2001.
It’s great that the Gordon Brown’s government of 2007 can learn from its own mistakes.
But the real question in this matter and probably in all others is this...
Can we learn from the mistakes of the past or are we doomed to always repeat them for ourselves?
Answers on a postcard. (Or in the comments box if you prefer.)
By Peter Muriuki