In the era driven by ‘who knows what’ many people are unwilling to express their views to challenge the status quo for fear of been ridiculed. But I believe God has given the ordinary man the gift of reason by which he/she may identify and discover things for him/her self. He has also endowed us with ears to make a distinction of what are realities and false flags and eyes of investigation by which we may see and recognize the truth.
I wish to analyze the controversies that have arisen from the recent outbreak of the deadly Ebola disease from three different angles. I begin by analyzing what I describe as trauma based mind control strategy employed by the mainstream media, some medical experts and health workers, some politicians and the middle class in the Ebola stricken and yet to be affected countries such as Ghana to put fear in the masses. The second issue I will look at concerns why people in these countries have defiled all warnings from the W.H.O and medical experts against the risks of consuming bush meats in this Ebola crisis. I will end with a short discussion on finding African solution to major disease outbreaks.
It is upsetting how the mainstream media including the social media is hyping the Ebola outbreak by terrorizing the innocent public with horrendous images of Ebola victims, fear of a sudden and unpleasant death from a disease that can easily be contained as compared to other tropical and infectious diseases. Even intellectuals have fallen victims to this trauma based mind control strategy. Eliminating the fear and stigmatisation surrounding Ebola is one of the greatest challenges health workers face today. With such terrifying headlines by the mainstream media, sometimes I get the feeling that, Ebola scare is also another attempt to put fear in the masses.
While I accept the fact that the disease is incredibly lethal, I believe the experiences of Swine flu, Bird flu etc scare hoax have made some of us very skeptical and question whether the Ebola threat is real or it is just another false flag. Wolfgang Wadarg, a former chair of Europe’s sub-committee on Health is on record to have said that the swine flu pandemic was a hoax manufactured by pharmaceutical companies in collaboration with W.H.O to make large profits. It is really amazing how Benin’s Minister of health, Dorothee Gazard will go on air and announced a suspected Ebola case when actually the blood sample of that Nigerian had just been sent to Senegal for testing. This announcement triggered widespread fear in Cotonou, the capital of Benin. Most of them according to Reuters’ news report said they were going to stock up on food and stop eating roadside food just to avoid possible infection.
Many of us including Dr Garth Nicolson, a leading expert in emerging diseases and biological warfare are extremely in a confused state as to how a disease like Ebola which symptoms show up very quickly and relatively easy to contain should become a challenge to Africans and compel most of the affected countries to close their borders, cancel flights and declared state of emergency. Government of Ghana has even gone to the extent of putting a moratorium on all international events in the country. Are these knee-jerk reactions the best way to contain the Ebola situation? I leave it to the discretion of well meaning Ghanaians. I am not a doomsayer but I believe the economies of these West African countries will soon collapse while there are various alternative measures available that could be employed to curb the spread of Ebola disease. I believe the fears are out of all proportion to the reality of the threat.
The Gospel according to Public opinion
Another issue that has cropped up has to do with the explanations from scientists and medical experts to be the mode of transmission of the Ebola virus. They have attributed the Ebola outbreak to practices such as bush meat consumption and burial traditions in Africa. The virus also has been confirmed to be transmitted through body fluids and so people have been warned against physical contact with infected bats or monkeys and apes, handshaking, hugging etc. But the masses in the Ebola stricken countries have called the bluff of W.H.O and those scientists. To those people they have been ‘chewing’ bush meat since the days of Adam and see no reason they should refrain from it now. The locals believe that linking African culture to Ebola spread and also an obstacle to prevention and epidemic control efforts is misleading. They have rather blamed foreign doctors including American bio-warfare team as ‘transporters’ of the virus and also responsible for the recent surge in deaths in their communities.
According to local news reports resident in the village of Wabengou, Guinea placed a tree in the road to block outsiders (foreigners) from entering their community. The chief of the town, Marcel Dambadounou was reported as saying “We don’t want them in there at all,” “We don’t accept their presence at all. They are the transporters of the virus in these communities.” In Sierra Leone, according to local reports, Villagers flee at the sight of a Red Cross truck. When a Westerner passes, villagers cry out, “Ebola, Ebola!” and run away.
However, their argument seems irrelevant to the understanding of scientists, medical experts and the privileged elites. They have rather linked Ebola spread to be the result of African ignorance and backwardness. Some public health workers and scientists in Africa have lashed out at people blaming the west for Ebola spread. According to New York Times in July, addressing villagers in Bawa, Sierra Leone where a woman had just died, a health worker from Guéckédou, Mohammed Cinq Keita, castigated: “There is no root, no leaf, and no animal that can cure you. Don’t be fooled.” Many of these negative comments are made any time local people offered their opinion about disease outbreak. The question is why would a person suffering from a deadly disease or at risk of acquiring the infection reject treatment and chase out health workers? Why these people aren’t imputing same motives to other diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and malaria? There must be a reason for their action.
Even though, I would not want to be seen to be taken stance on this matter, I also think their wariness against the westerners has some deep roots and should be investigated instead of brushing it off. Early this year, Sierra Leone nurses working in a heavily infested Kenema district actually went on strike after three of their colleagues died from Ebola. They accused American biowarfare team and their counterpart Ebola researchers from Tulane University working in the area for infesting the local people with the Ebola virus through their Ebola testing kits as well as contributing to recent surge in deaths.
The Health ministry realizing some sense in their accusations concluded through it Facebook page that the diagnostic kits the US researchers have been using were fake and produced false results. It asks, “Have Tulane researchers done something to endanger public health?” Meanwhile, more people are becoming infected and dying there in that Sierra Leone district hospital than any other place on the planet.
Ebola researchers from Tulane University until the Ebola outbreak early this year have been in Sierra Leone since 2009. They have been experimenting with diagnostic test kits on local people in Kenema district which in their own opinion will aid in bioterrorism defense against an Ebola virus. The Sierra Leone government had to order the US bio-weapons lab at Kenema to be moved due to the mounting anger of the local population. A doctor employed by the French charity organization Doctors without Borders working in the same district agreed with the locals and described the accusation against the foreign doctors as “understandable” given the fact that most of the Ebola victims have died at the same hospital. In fact, Centre for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization (W.H.O) have also admitted in most of their reports on Ebola about dubious activities of foreign doctors at the Kenema hospital.
With regard to past experiences, I would like everybody to read the shocking Whiteout Press article, ‘The Confession that Merck Pharma created, spread AIDS.’ This article explains in details how Merck allegedly created and spread AIDS while testing experimental vaccines on innocent Africans. For some reason known to them, Merck used a deadly monkey virus in the ingredients of their earliest polio vaccine attempts. It was revealed not only as a cause of cancer in humans, but also a mysterious new human-monkey disease called HIV. You can also view the video of this shocking news on YouTube clip of Merck researcher Dr. Maurice Hilleman admitting it. Also, U.S government scientists in the 1940’s right up until 1972 allegedly infected poor blacks in Tuskegee, Alabama and Guatemalan with syphilis just to experiment with penicillin and study it effects. Another example captured in a SOMO briefing paper on ethics in clinical trials in 2008 revealed how in Cameroon five women became infected with HIV while enrolling in the Tenofir-study. It was later found that, the 400 sex workers who participated in the trial were not adequately informed about the risks and only English information was given to mostly French speaking volunteers. I can go on and on but I will leave it to your discretion.
My general view concerning this matter is that all views ought to be heard and thoroughly examined, even views that are questionable or apparently wrong. This, I believe is the sure way for good decision making to curb the reoccurrences of the likes of Ebola and other infectious diseases. We must choose between fighting for those whose voices are not heard and who are mostly affected by these epidemics or continue to dance to the tunes of the west who always want to link disease outbreaks to African cultural practices.
Putting a Black face on Ebola epidemic
Ask any medical experts about the origin and mode of transmission of the Ebola virus and he or she will probably tell you bats, monkeys or chimps, porcupines and antelopes in the African bush infected humans with the virus through physical contact with them. These bush animals are all edible meats that are main staple and part of many Africans’ diet.
It will interest you to know that until recently, the source of the Ebola viruses was still unknown. Indeed, western interest in finding out the hidden place of the virus grew after 1989 Reston event where Ebola virus was detected in a crab-eating macaque monkeys in a laboratory in Reston, Virginia. Trust the western media to link Africa as originators of all major epidemics. Jared Jones in his paper entitled “The Limitations of Culturalist Discourses in Epidemiology” provides a few of such headlines. CNN titled it special documentary released in 1995 “a killer on the loose in the rainforest”. New York Times editorial also in 1995 also had this title “the rare and terrifying Ebola virus has emerged from its hiding place in the heart of the African jungle”.
Anytime the world is faced with a disease that is more threatening to all races, Africa is singled out as the originators of that disease even when there is no evidence to show that large numbers of African or any other primate infected by such disease were “incubating” the virus before the outbreak.
However, despite the weakness in evidence, Ebola spread linked to human- infected animals close contact has become a well-accepted scientific theory. In contrast, the local view linking Ebola spread to ‘outsiders’ is condemned as “conspiracy theory”
Responding to the general view amongst cotton factory workers in Nzara, Sudan that the transmission of the Ebola virus in the first Ebola case ever was due to human-animal contact, scientists tested over 500 animals including birds and insects but none tested positive for the virus. In fact, in the case Zaire Ebola outbreak that occurred on August 1976 in Yambuku, it was later detected the 44 year old teacher, Mabalo Lokela had the virus through the re-use of the needle for his injection without sterilization. Interestingly, this happened in Belgian missionary hospital where unsterilized injection had always been used on patients. In the Reston Ebola case, all 178 people who came into contact with the infected monkeys during the laboratory test never had the virus and the conclusion by the C.D.C was that the virus was harmless in humans. In all Ebola researches conducted between 1976 and 1998, none of the 30,000 animals sampled and tested had the Ebola virus. Even in the 2002 survey of 679 fruit bats from Gabon and Congo Republic, only 13 were found to contain the Ebola virus. The 697 bats were part of 1,030 animals used in that survey.
Indeed, throughout the history of Ebola, unsterilized medical instruments, lack of barrier nursing and the lackadaisical response by health authorities to Ebola cases have been cited as either contributing to the transmission of Ebola virus or facilitating the spread of the disease during Zaire and Sudan outbreaks in 1976 and Uganda outbreak in 2000. Yet despite all these, Africans are being told different stories including some practices that have been with us since time immemorial to be the causes of recent Ebola outbreak.
Finding a West African cure
Africa has been the most affected region any time there was a disease outbreak. You see and hear in disgust and dismay about people dying in millions all over the Continent through common diseases we have cure for. Who said Africa does not have a cure for Ebola and other deadly diseases? Our inability to exploit the Africa mind and fully integrate traditional herbal medicine into our health care system has landed us where we are now. The western and pharmaceutical companies’ description of African herbal medicine as unscientific and at best “hocus pocus” has indeed resonated with the privileged elites who seize every opportunity to attack the practice.
The entire African generation have been brainwashed to disregard our culture and practitioners of herbal medicine are look down upon, and ridiculed as unintelligent or dumb just because most of them have no formal education. What they failed to realize is that with all the formal education our health status is getting worse. We are blind to what matters the most to us because we have been brainwashed that the discipline of medicine was invented by “White” people. The father of medicine is an African by name IMHOTEP and not that Hippocrates we have been made to believe.
What the so-called scientists and medical experts in Africa have also failed to realize is that each culture defines its own diseases and through that creates its response in tackling them. Our fore-fathers had this at the back of their minds and so they relied on natural herbs as their main source of medicine in treating all chronic and infectious diseases. Meanwhile we spend millions of money to import similar products of less quality from abroad.
Any time there is an epidemic, it is the international community that comes to the assistance of millions in the continent. The current crop of African leaders and health professionals have decided to leave drug development in the hands of the pharmaceutical industry and so they choose to invest and develop drugs that are profitable. Economic interest is the main reason why researches into developing drugs for common diseases such as the likes of sleeping sickness, tuberculosis, Ebola that can be easily managed continue like epidemics on a worldwide scale.
Africa should have three responses to Ebola and other common diseases. First, there must be an urgent change in our disease management. We need to build strong health systems to identify cases quickly before they spread and also pursue policies to modify some clinical practices and processes so they are culturally sensitive. Governments in Africa must invest greatly in the health sector to improve the quality of healthcare infrastructure and to address head-on the usual shortages of medical supplies in health facilities.
Second, since most Africans value their culture and the fact that 70% of the population depend upon traditional medicine and herbal practices, there is an overwhelming need for governments to develop an independent and alternative health care system based primarily upon their indigenous knowledge of herbs, food and plants. We must do everything to fully integrate traditional medicine into the national healthcare system.
Last but not least, we must retract on our foods and lifestyle if we want to free ourselves from the multitudes of health problems. We must realize that our cultural practices and foods are our roots and they include disease prevention and management.
I’m going to end here, because I could write a whole book on this subject. This article although not comprehensive enough, I believe it will provoke the mind to think outside the box and reflect a little more about issues such as this.
Jerry Kweku Asomaning
A public health advocate and a student of history and politics
Email: email@example.com or whatsapp: +233244879544