Stories from Quick Reads and Health
— Vaintche Rahouli (@vincraholi) August 28, 2014
Twitter and Facebook users from Madagascar's capital city, Antananarivo, have posted several photos of locusts invading the city. Locust invasions are not unusual in Madagascar, especially after tropical storms, but they are very uncommon in larger cities. Locusts can have a devastating effect on crops, especially in a country that has struggled with bouts of famine in past years.
Nigeria's Health Minster, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, recently announced that Ebola though not “totally eliminated”, has been successfully curtailed. Nigeria has only one case of Ebola currently. According to Onyebuchi, as quoted by TheCable:
“As of today [August 26, 2014], Nigeria has 13 cases of Ebola virus disease. That is including the index case – the late Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer. Five did not survive, however two more Nigerian patients have been discharged. Both of them health workers, were discharged yesterday. This brings the number of those discharged now to seven. As I speak to you Nigeria has only one case of Ebola virus. This is thus far an indication that Nigeria has contained the virus.”
During the current crisis of the Ebola virus disease (EVD), many reports showcased stories about patients, medical staff, vaccines and the consequences of the disease on the affected countries. But rare are the reports about the daily work of laboratory technicians and of those who care for their daily needs. In a post on buzzfeed.com entitled The Hidden Heroes Of Liberia’s Ebola Crisis, Jina Moore tells the story of these key people in fighting the Ebola virus in Liberia:
Catherine Jeejuah starts so early these days that she doesn’t know the time. It’s irrelevant. She rises when it’s dark, lights a fire, and boils rice and greens for her two kids. By about 6:30 a.m., when light begins leaking through the windows, she leaves for a nearby school.
Here, she does it all again, at a greater scale. Jeejuah, 30, and two other women, all volunteers, are cooking for 12 of the most important, but invisible, people in Liberia right now.
The dozen meals are meant for the team of technicians that tests the blood of suspected Ebola patients. They visit sick peoples’ homes and overwhelmed Ebola treatment centers, sticking needles in the veins of physically unpredictable, highly contagious people. They then drive their blood back to Liberia’s only medical lab, more than an hour from the capital of Monrovia.
Thus far, no-one in Cuba has contracted the deadly Ebola virus and the government wants to keep it that way. Havana Times reports on “increased control measures to prevent the possible introduction of Ebola into Cuba”, adding that The Ministry of Public Health and other supporting agencies are being extra vigilant with monitoring any visitors arriving from high-risk countries.
A recent court case in Jianxi province revealed the insider story of human kidney trafficking business in China. Charles Liu from theNanfang.com curated the local investigative report on the operation of the underground business.
… a 21 year-old man looking to prove to his family that he was financially independent. After learning from a QQ contact that he could earn RMB 25,000 for selling a kidney he decided to go to Nanchang.
On August 19, 2014, the Republic of Cameroon closed its borders with Nigeria in a bid to halt the spread of the Ebola virus. However, the government made this decision without giving enough thought to the thousands of travelers – mostly Cameroonian citizens and Nigerians resident in Cameroon – caught on the wrong side of the border. Consequently, many of these travelers ended being trapped on the Cameroon/Nigeria border for days, in appalling conditions, while waiting to be screened for the Ebola virus before being allowed back into Cameroon.
Batuo's Blog published the first-person narrative of Patricia Temeching, one of the travelers who was trapped on the Cameroon/Nigeria border for over 40 hours:
I go through Nigerian security checks and my passport is grudgingly returned to me. I walk across the bridge. The Cameroonian side of the bridge is crowded, as is the police/customs post that is perched three meters away from the end of the bridge… When I inquire why there are so many people on the bridge a miserable-looking woman replies, “We are waiting for the medical team to screen us for Ebola before we can go into Cameroon…”
‘How long have you been waiting?’ I ask.
“Fifteen hours. I came yesterday just after the medical team had left.”
I join the throng of people on the bridge and we wait and wait. Hunger and anger consume me. All I have in my travelling bag are a few clothes and my academic papers. By evening more and more people have joined us and we are all crowded on the bridge and in the small police post building, where we spend the night on our feet. The stench of urine and faeces emanating from the back of the building combines with the unhealthy sweat from two hundred unwashed bodies and leaves a nauseating sickening feeling in the air.
In the morning we receive information that the medical team will arrive soon. We are all looking forward to it. By noon nothing has happened…
This afternoon, after I have spent 24 hours at the border post, we are allowed to trek to Ekok town. It is a trek an Ebola patient will certainly not survive. We pay boys to carry our bags. When we reach Ekok town we are bundled into an empty building with no lights, no toilet facilities and no beds. This it to be our accommodation until the medical team arrives. Finally the “medical team” arrives. It is the doctor from Eyumojock. We go through the “screening”. This is how it happens: Eau de Javel [bleach] is poured into water. We file in and wash our hands. We also wash our mouths. Then you are cleared.
Once I am cleared (at 10 p.m.), I leave the ‘quarantine’ building and go to look for a hotel. I find a run-down inn and finally crawl into a sorry-looking bed with tired sheets. After spending forty hours on my feet this bed feels like a king’s bed. I sleep the sleep of the dead.
This is my greatest worry: What if one person among us (two hundred travellers) actually came with Ebola from Nigeria? The chances are we might all have become contaminated in the past fifty hours from being held promiscuously together, and we would now be taking the virus to two hundred different Cameroonian families.
The curtain has just come down on the tenth “Positive and Winning Africa Oscars”, held at the Hilton Hotel in Yaoundé, the political capital of Cameroon. This year, the event organised by the NGO “Positive and Winning Africa” rewarded Cameroonian Clément Petsoko for his innovating healthcare projects. For a decade now, sponsor Hervé Mba and a jury made up of a dozen public figures to award prizes to African personalities whose innovative projects could help the progress of the African continent.
The Golden Oscar for Man of the Decade was presented to Clément Petsoko, PDG of the Morgan and Wilfried laboratories. The jury rewarded Petsoko for “his capacity to overcome the numerous difficulties he has faced in recent years”. As he was awarded his prize, the happy winner stated:
Je voudrais que mon prix serve d’enseignement à la jeunesse du monde qui doit intégrer dans son vécu quotidien le dicton qui selon lequel : « le pont qui mène au succès est fragile » et qu’il faille allier courage, abnégation et détermination dans l’atteinte de ses objectifs.
I want my prize to serve as a lesson to young people around the world, who should remember the saying “it's a rocky road to success,” and that achieving your aims requires courage, self-sacrifice and determination.
Some months ago, on her blog Anchas Alamedas, blogger Solentiname started to share the different stages she's gone through, since the moment she found a lump in her breast. On her latest blogpost, she writes to someone she calls Mimí and she tells her how she felt after the surgery she experienced few weeks ago. She tells Mimi about her feelings, doubts, pains and joys:
No te preocupés porque no me ha dolido nada. Ha sido incómodo, pero cuando uno se salva de una cosa de esas, entrega endosado el derecho de quejarse, ¿verdad? Me siento casi obligada a la felicidad absoluta, a la perspectiva, al esto es preferible a un cáncer. [...] Y resulta, además, que yo no sé bien cómo sentirme. No me siento sobreviviente de cáncer, no siento que tengo derecho a ese título. [...] He pensado en tomarle la palabra a todas las personas que me han dicho que les dejara saber si podían hacer algo por mí y decirles que sÍ: que le paguen a todas sus empleadas una mamografía, que hagan una campaña, que salven así aunque sea una vida.
Don't worry, this didn't hurt at all. It has been uncomfortable, but when you manage to overcome something like this, you give up the right to complain, right? I feel almost forced to absolute happiness, to perspective, to the this is better than cancer. [...] And besides that, I don't know how to feel anymore. I don't feel as if I survived cancer, I don't feel entitled to the label of survivor. [...] I've thought of taking at their word to everyone that asked me to let them know if they could do something for me and I will tell them yes: pay a mammogram to each of your female workers, make a campaign, save at least one life.
She ends up saying:
No sobreviví a nada Mimí. No siento que la vida me esté dando una segunda oportunidad de nada. No me siento con una misión en la vida. No me siento especial, diferente, escogida. No me siento distinta.
I am not survivor at all, Mimí. I don't feel life is giving me a second chance of anything. I don't feel I have a mission in life. I don't feel special, different nor chosen. I don't feel I'm distinct.
In view of widespread rumors regarding the health of Zambia's president, Michael Sata, Gershom Ndhlovu argues that the constitution mandates the cabinet to probe his health:
The last time Zambia’s President Michael Sata was seen publicly was on or around June 20 when he hosted a Chinese government delegation led by Vice President Li Yuanchao at the Presidential Palace. At that time, Sata’s appearance was that of an ailing man, a confirmation of his scraggy appearance at the High Court a couple of weeks earlier.
When pictures of a seemingly sick Sata went viral on social media, one online publication, the Zambian Watchdog, reported that the President had been evacuated to Israel for treatment.
Obviously, the expose did not go down very well with government whose senior officials at the level of vice president and ministers issued all manner of statements ranging from the president being on a working holiday to wooing investors and meeting that country’s President Shimon Perez.
Upon his return to Lusaka, the president’s office tried to show him as working normally and even posted pictures of him chairing a Cabinet meeting. The people were not convinced and called of the bluff, alleging that the pictures were photoshopped.
However, the most disastrous public relations stunt that spectacularly backfired was the picture of President Sata swearing in then Solicitor General Musa Mwenye who had been ratified by parliament for the position of Attorney-General but had been unsworn for weeks on end. There had been concerns that Mwenye would not perform in his new role without being sworn in.
The picture which was published on the Presidential Palace Facebook page, supposedly with the aim of showing that Mwenye had been sworn in as Attorney-General, had in it a deceased individual and another one who had been posted to the diplomatic service two years earlier.
Under the premise that AIDS is the second cause of teenager deaths in the world and the nvisibility for vulnerables populatons in this field, Puerto Rican journalist Natalia A. Bonilla Berríos writes about the participation of L’Orangelis Thomas Negrón, HIV carrier from birth, on the XX 2014 AIDS International Conference held last July in Melbourne, Australia.
Thomas wonders how accessible is life expectancy for teenagers and young people living with AIDS in the world? And she develops an answer:
Hice mención de las poblaciones claves y cómo, el no reconocerlas es una agresión a su propia existencia, y más aún cuando se es adolescente. La expectativa de vida, que se dice que es la misma que las personas que no viven con VIH, y cuán real es esto, cuando hay países que criminalizan el VIH y la homosexualidad; cuando quienes hemos vivido toda la vida con VIH no sabremos qué pasará con nuestros cuerpos en cinco o diez años porque no hay estudios suficientes; cuando las mujeres y transgéneros somos víctimas de violencia de género; o cuando migrantes y trabajadores/as sexuales no tienen acceso a la salud. Sobre todo, el hecho de que países desarrollados están a punto de firmar acuerdos que afectará el costo de los medicamentos genéricos de los cuales los países en desarrollo dependen.
I mentioned key populations and how no acknowledging them is an aggression against their existence itself, even more for teenagers. About life expectancy, said to be the same as individuales who live free of HIV, and how real that is, when some countries penalize HIV and homosexuality, when those of us who have lived our whole lives with HIV don't know what will happen with our bodies in five or ten years as there are no enough researches, when women and transgenders are victims of gender violence or when migrants and sex workers don't have access to healthcare. Above all, that fact that developed countries are about to suscribe agreements that will affect the costs of generic drugs, on which developing countries rely.