Ciné-ONU: Fighting the ‘Unseen Enemy’

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Ciné ONU with DSW at Cinéma Galeries Article

An enemy which can cross borders, class, faith, and which is imperceptible to the naked eye, viruses and diseases should be considered as dangerous as terrorism or natural disasters.

In a more globalized world, where viruses and diseases have the ability to spread faster than ever before, “A global pandemic is not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when” , according to Dr. Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist featured in ‘Unseen Enemy’,screened by Ciné-ONU at Cinema Galeries, Brussels on 7 June 2017.

The film, narrated by Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actor, Jeffrey Wright, follows award-winning director, Janet Tobias and some of the world's top experts for three years to investigate why diseases, that once were only outbreaks, have become full-blown epidemics. Examining the recent epidemics of Ebola, Influenza, and Zika, ‘Unseen Enemy’ makes it clear that epidemics bring out the best and worst of human behaviour, and that their effect goes far beyond the terrible tolls of sickness and death.

Janet Tobias Article

Following the film there was an interactive discussion, moderated by Carlos Jimenez (UNRIC), with Janet Tobias (Director of 'Unseen Enemy') and Dr. Erika Vlieghe (National Ebola Coordinator for Belgium).

In an engaging discussion, Janet Tobias reiterated the importance of public trust and communication during an epidemic. Stating that, “social media is like a virus”, and misinformation can spread just as quickly.

Panel Article

Making the comparison between hate speech and violent extremism, a member of the audience was curious to know to what extent the government can intervene in the spread of misinformation. While both panellists agreed that information about viruses and diseases should be easily accessible, as a medical expert, Dr. Erika Vlieghe, warned the audience that “epidemics are dehumanizing us”. Rather than taking legal measures, the director encouraged the audience to “set the standards high for the media so that the correct information is spread”.  

The discussion ended on a positive note with the director reminding the young audience that the future is theirs. “It’s your chance to lead”.

The handout from our event is available here.

For more info on ‘Unseen Enemy’ please click here.

Want to learn more about the World Health Organization’s Response System for public health emergencies?

Why not have a look at event photos on our Flickr?

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