When HIV/AIDS was discovered in the US in the early 1980s, nobody believed it would reach a point that Africa would become the epicentre .The whites that were infected accepted their fate and ensured that they lived positively,informing anybody they were to have sexual contacts with about their health status, and ensuring that condoms were used correctly.
The religious leaders over there never intervened on the advice given by doctors and no religious leader,no matter how spiritually connected, claimed to have the cure for the HIV-AIDS. Today, the percentage of people living with HIV in UK and US is less than what obtains in Africa.
If an African tests positive to HIV today,that person will assure himself/herself that nothing is wrong in transmitting it to another person, after all how did he/she get it in the first place? Within one week, many innocent people will have been infected and this ‘distributor’ will be ashamed to start treating himself/herself on time.
When he/she reaches the final stage complicated with the opportunistic infections,he/she will be rushed to hospital where the doctors will be expected to do abracadabra. This is usually after many months of managing the person for an ‘attack” in the church while the free government anti- retroviral drugs are wasting in our hospitals.When the person eventually dies,people will say,’God gave and God has taken.’
WRONG EXERCISE OF POWER
When the Catholic hospital in Liberia treating Patrick Sawyer’s sister made the diagnosis of Ebola, Sawyer was aware of the diagnosis and the implications and he was restricted from attending to his sister. But he exercised his political power and violated the hospital’s instructions. It was reported that he was found many times with blood stains on his shirts while attending to his late sister. Even while in Nigeria,he repeated similar thing when he was restricted.
The management of First Consultants Hospital reported that they were under pressure to release him since he was a diplomat but the management refused considering the effects of such unpatriotic act on the Nigerian public. Sadly, in our usual way of doing things, one can be sure that our government will not do anything to reward this hospital or immortalize the health practitioners who lost their lives. Imagine what would have happened if Sawyer succeeded in the wrong use of his power and connections and was discharged from First Consultants Hospital to travel down to Calabar?
A nurse that was involved in the treatment of Sawyer wickedly(or do I say ignorantly) travelled to Enugu possibly to ‘distribute’ the deadly virus to others including his family members. Remember that the said nurse was aware that other members of the hospital staff were quarantined along with other contacts of Sawyer but she decided to run to Enugu without considering the passengers in the vehicle she travelled in could be exposed to the Ebola virus.
Also, Sawyer as a true African, stubbornly left Liberia against medical advice to attend the ECOWAS convention in Calabar. It was reported that this Sawyer having discovered that he tested positive to Ebola, he started urinating on the hospital staff of First Consultants Hospital hence the need for the late consultant, Dr Stella Adadevoh, to personally restrict his movements.
Some dubious religious leaders on their own part are busy preaching to their gullible congregation that the said virus is from God hence it requires God’s intervention to cure. I don’t want to talk about the ‘saltwater’ treatment which expectedly killed more people. What these religious leaders never knew was that Ebola had been in existence since 1976. Expectedly, the man that took Ebola to Rivers State might not tell the doctor that he was among the primary contacts of Sawyer hence the doctor falling prey to his antics.
In Liberia recently,we heard that some idiots called gunmen went to Ebola isolation centre and freed the quarantined patients and stole the materials brought to the patients believing that the materials were money. They even went ahead to claim that Ebola did not exist the same way that some foolish people believed that the true meaning of AIDS is,’American Idea for Dodging Sex,’ and today they are either living with the virus or have died of the deadly virus disease.
THE GOVERNMENT THAT CANNOT BE TRUSTED
A national emergency was declared for Ebola virus disease by our government and about N1.9billion was released and expectedly as a Nigerian thing the few that are favoured in power will benefit from the money ‘allegedly’ released after all it is said that one man’s food is another man’s poison,whether the poor man out there is taken care of or not that does not concern them.
If you ever accuse any of the officials of embezzling the funds released,he/she will smartly rush down to court where he/she will get perpetual injunction restricting EFCC,ICPC and other law enforcement agents from investigating him and will still come out and ask you to tender an apology for even thinking of arresting him in the first place,the same way that the House Of Representatives asked NMA to apologise to Nigerians for fighting for their rights.
Remember that the vital aim of the said strike is to compel the government to revamp the moribund state of our health sector. Don’t be surprised when the salaries of health workers would be subtracted ,reason being the purchase of personal protective equipment by the hospital management for the health workers.
Was it not this same government through their health experts that told us that nano-silver was potential cure for Ebola?
Having confirmed the news from our supposed health experts,our national dailies carried headlines such as: Ebola: Hope rises for local treatments;Govt to introduce Nano Silver,drug developed by Nigerian scientist etc. This was happening at a time that a fledgling internet surfer knew that the said nano silver was a pesticide.
A woman recently lost her life after she was reported to have been rejected by many hospitals. The said hospitals suspected that the woman had Ebola virus disease and rejected her. After the woman died it was discovered that she had no Ebola. Do we now blame the hospitals for rejecting the woman?
In my own opinion, I don’t think that I will blame the hospitals because there is no way endangering the life of other patients and staff of the hospitals when it was clear that government had not provided the required equipment to the hospitals. Another point there is: rejecting the suspected patients and allowing the patients have access to the Nigerian public ,is it not an act of un-patriotism on the part of the hospitals? The answer to that question will be, what has the government done for the management of the First Consultants Hospital Lagos,for sacrificing four of their staff,one of which was a consultant, to encourage other hospitals to be patriotic?
It was announced, last week, that about 70 people were quarantined in Rivers State. Somebody should help ask our government officials the exact location where the suspected patients are currently quarantined? I am still in Rivers State and when I read the news, I called the people I was supposed to call to know the exact location of the quarantine centre, they were as confused as I was (or do I say I am since I am yet to know the exact location).
We are no more kids,we have our communication gadgets,they should not deceive us at this age. If the patients are not at UPTH(University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital) and not at BMSH(Braithwait Memorial Specialist Hospital), worse still, the Emohua quarantine centre is yet to be fully completed as at the time of writing this report,where then exactly are the patients quarantined and where was the wife of the late doctor treated?
THE WAY FORWARD
(1)If the government is really serious in containing this Ebola virus disease, which I doubt,they should restrict movements in and out of Lagos and Rivers States for now, because the arrest of Boston bombers in USA was possible because movements were restricted.
(2)The supposed government health experts should always tell the masses the truth at all times and verify all statements before granting press briefings. The hospital owned by the late doctor is a busy hospital located at the heart of Port Harcourt,Rumuokoro axis of the Garden City. All his contacts should be traced immediately. I heard he just operated on a patient a day before he died,all these facts should be objectively investigated .
(3)All hospitals,private hospitals inclusive,should be provided with large number of Personal Protective Equipment.
(4)When a patient in a quarantined center is discharged, before another patient is admitted, that place must be fully sterilized in accordance with WHO standards and the gloves used in touching/treating one Ebola suspected patient should not be used on another patient. The mortuary the late doctor was initially taken to, before being brought to UPTH should be decontaminated according to international best practices and all the workers at the morgue quarantined.
(5) Private hospitals that alert the government about a possible case of Ebola should be financially compensated because as First Consultant Hospital is currently locked up,the management is still counting their losses and it will take many years before the average Nigerian will start patronizing the hospital. By compensating the management of First Consultants Hospital and immortalising the health workers that died in the process,it will encourage many private hospitals and other health practitioners to be more patriotic
(6)Commercial bus drivers and taxi drivers should start carrying three passengers per seat and one passenger in the front seat as against the current practice of four passengers per seat and two passengers in front. This will help minimize the body contacts which is another means of contracting this virus disease. Believe me,our law enforcement agents once they collect their ‘roger’ (bribe) they will look the other way while the commercial drivers will pack their passengers like sardine .
(7)Any religious leader or house that claims having any cure for the deadly Ebola virus disease should be arrested and prosecuted since when Jesus and Mohammed were on this earth,they never advertised their healing powers. Also,these religious leaders should be warned not to organise any gathering at this critical period.
(8)Our legislators should immediately enact laws so that any Ebola suspect who runs away will be prosecuted after being arrested and treated. This law will ensure that all Ebola suspects will surrender themselves to the appropriate authorities and any health practitioner that treats any suspected Ebola patient without calling on the appropriate authority will be dealt with.
This is exactly the case in Port Harcourt where the primary contact of the index case ran away from Lagos to Port Harcourt to be treated by the late doctor. I am sure that our legislators will not enact any law because there is no financial inducement to set them into action .
The Nigerian masses should hold their leaders accountable because as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said in her book,The Purple Hibiscus,’the educated ones leave,the ones with the potential to right the wrong, they leave the weak behind. The tyrants continue to reign because the weak cannot resist.
Do you not see that it is a cycle?’, I call on the human rights lawyers to rise up to this challenge as any problem created in Nigeria by our leaders will be suffered by the masses because our leaders having ‘graciously’ supervised our health sector to its present deplorable state will always travel to Germany for private visits even when a foetus that is conceived today knows that Germany is known for medical tourism.
*JOHN is a medical doctor based in Port Harcourt.
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