Is WHO’s Response To Ebola Enough?

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Okechukwu Nsofor

One of the most mind boggling footages to be aired in recent times was that of CNN which showed the suffering of Ebola patients in Liberia.

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Ebola is bad news, it is one of the most deadly and devastating diseases we have seen in recent times which are capable of wiping out entire families and communities. It has also become a devourer of sorts and is now the new money spender for multilateral agencies such as WHO. The question we need to ask though is that even with the new trend of expenditure has WHO done enough? Where is this money going to and why haven’t they been able to solve the problem? How radical has their approach been in light of the need for drastic measures to eradicate the disease completely.

If Nigeria, through sheer will and determination and concerted efforts to stamp out Ebola, eliminated itwithin a short period of time, why can’t WHO help the West African countries to do the same? These countries apart from the devastation and pain they are going through now have to bear the stigma that comes with Ebola. They are also not alone, West Africans and Africa as a whole have been stigmatized. The problem, therefore, has far more reaching consequences than health implications and as included discrimination and stigmatization to it.

We are sitting on a potential time bomb which has far reaching implications. It looks like the Ebola issue has also become like one of those fashionable things that WHO pushes through celebrities who assist them in raising funds for poor developing countries. This strategy has been deployed for years, yet Africa is still very poor. Will this approach work for the eradication of Ebola or does something more drastic need to be done? It is a disease that must be treated radically, must not be left to fester and must be stopped instantly. The world today is facing a more deadly killer. We have once again apart from the issue of poverty and raging concerns about sustained development recorded one of the most damning image in recent times – it looks like it’s now become sexy for Africans to be looked upon as the poor brother or sister of other countries who can’t do anything to help him or herself.

Even when the disease is still restricted to the poor countries of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra-Leone and Mali, the pandemic remains a potential threat to a sizeable population of the human race. The international community expects the organization to focus more on ways of reining in the Ebola pandemic before it spreads tentacles to every part of the globe.

At a recent conference of parties on Tobacco, the media reports from Washington Times widely circulated Ms Chan exasperation ‘when she was quoted as saying I can’t be a single-issue director-general.” Ms. Chan remarked. “I don’t want people to think I spend all of my time on Ebola.” The issue requires a bit more sensitivity than the statement. While she is not required to be a single-issue director, the attention given to Ebola at this time must be one of strong determination and strong focus – it must be drastic and not allowed to fester, it must not become a fad. She must work furiously and fastidiously to eradicate Ebola from our midst.

The focus on issues such as tobacco and the like when compared to the human destruction caused by Ebola is a problem – because while people are dying in droves, communities are on the verge of being wiped out they continue to focus on issues which are not in need of as much attention as Ebola. The song we should all be singing now is:‘Ebola must be wiped out completely and quickly before it takes more lives than it already has’.

There is also a conspiracy theory that the virus was part of the western world’s weaponisation programme, with WHO right in the middle. Conspiracy theorists posit that this is in line with their experiments to develop germs for biological warfare. The Ebola pandemic began in late February in Guinea while United Nations agencies were said to be conducting nationwide vaccine campaign for three other diseases in rural districts. The simultaneous eruptions of the virus in widely separated zones strongly suggested that the virulent Zaire Ebola strain (ZEBOV) was deliberately introduced to test an antidote in secret trials on unsuspecting humans.

According to the theories, the cross-border escape of Ebola into neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia indicates that something went terribly wrong during clinical trials by a major pharmaceutical company. The intelligence community has stressed the strange coincidence of the earliest Ebola outbreak in Guinea with the three major vaccine campaigns conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UN children’s agency UNICEF. At least two of the vaccination programmes were implemented by Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF)(Doctors Without Borders). The mystery at the heart of the Ebola outbreak is how the 1995 Zaire (ZEBOV) strain, which originated in Central Africa some 4,000 km away managed to suddenly resurface a decade later in Guinea, West Africa.

Incidentally, as no evidence of Ebola infections in transit has been detected at airports, ports or highways, the initial infection may have come from the earlier mentioned secret trials. Curiously, the Guinea outbreak was not reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) until six weeks after the initial round of infections in February. That was quite odd considering the armies of medical workers in the countryside during those vaccine campaigns. By contrast, the MSF in next-door Senegal knew about the Guinea Ebola contagion less than a month after outbreak. The outbreak in early March coincided with three separate vaccination campaigns countrywide: a cholera oral vaccine effort by Medicin Sans Frontieres under WHO; and UNICEF-funded prevention programmes against meningitis and polio.

It would be proper to focus on the role of the UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake. Lake was National Security Advisor to President Bill Clinton and was responsible for US military intervention in Yugoslavia, Somalia and Haiti. Incidentally, one of Lake’s closest international allies during the Balkan war was Bernard Kouchner, the co-founder of Medicins Sans Frontieres who was appointed Foreign Minister under President Nicholas Sarkozy. The functional role of MSF is as a conveyor belt dumping vaccines from major pharmaceutical companies onto low-income and poorly educated populations of the developing world. The theorists also postulated that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was likely linked to a dual use-use experiment, for application in tropical health and as a biowarfare shield. Is it, therefore, a co-incidence that the West is now in a hurry to develop vaccines for the scourge because of the threats it poses to their countries and population. We need to ask the question again, has WHO done enough? The statement by Ms Chan clearly shows that issues such as Tobacco and the like which cannot in anyway be compared to the immediate devastation that Ebola has brought upon famililies, communities and the world may have been put on the same pedestal as Ebola. May God help us in West Africa. While we need to acknowledge the help of organisations like WHO, its time for Africans to really rise up and help themselves – whether the problem is one of tobacco or Ebola or Malaria or hunger and poverty – we must not be made into money spinning ventures which benefit a few but the people for which it is meant for. The help really must be found within ourselves and within the continent itself.

 

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