Humans are more afraid of one another than we are of Super Bugs and other natural disasters we sometimes appease. We are very conscious of nuclear proliferation and another world war which may wipe all of us out. Yet we outman one another in the name of deterrent while asking for nuclear reduction and monitoring of unstable governments in possession of nuclear weapons. Equally or more dangerous are Super Bugs and biological weapons that can wipe many people out unless curtailed. We are now losing some lower species.

The developments in Super Bugs were noticed in rodents, cockroaches and insects years ago. No matter how much we tried to get rid of these pests, they come back resistant to one form of killer chemical or the other. They are still with us, many were before us. There are fears that the more we spray chemicals to prevent the spread of virus and bacteria, the greater the chances of genetic mutations becoming resistant Super Bugs that will be difficult to deal with later.

Those following the recent development in medical news may have been alerted to the coming of other Super Bugs near you. These are resistant bacteria that is very difficult to treat. It is not going to be the end of human race but some sick people may have to be isolated for proper care in specialized facilities for palliative care. Those familiar with tuberculosis, malaria, gonorrhea, syphilis or flesh eating bacteria that can be treated know there are other forms resistant to treatment until combination of drugs are administered. There are bacteria mutations that are even worse.

Some of these bacteria that used to be easily treated with antibiotic have gone through genetic mutations feeding on the same drugs to stay vibrant. The fact is that every country has noticed the development of these Super Bugs but a couple of Asian countries have been pointed to as carriers of these bugs during operations in their hospitals. It sounded as a warning to people going out of their countries where tertiary medical services are expensive, to obtain the same operation for much less money in Asian countries.

It is not that simple because Super Bugs can be “bought” in any hospital that is lax in harden hygienic practices especially simple precaution in frequent hand washing before, during and after operations. Most hospitals have instituted hand cleaning soap in the most conspicuous areas of their facilities for patients and visitors to cut down on the rate of infections contacted in hospitals. Certainly, it can be very dangerous in countries where water and soap are luxuries. These are inadequacies transferred into their hospitals. We have heard about some hospitals asking patients to bring in their water, soap and drips.

In spite of the fact that the very top teaching hospitals in Africa have done their utmost to build and equip special wards and specialties in their facilities with all the luxuries that attract our leaders overseas, most of our politicians still go out anyway. In Nigeria for example, Teaching University in Abuja, Lagos and Ibadan have provided first class up-to-date luxury wards manned by highly trained specialists at home or that can be flown from anywhere in the world. It has not stopped the very rich from patronizing less equipped hospitals overseas.

May be the warning of Super Bugs in some of the countries they travel to will make them think twice and patronize these specialties at home. The amount of money each of them spend on treating upstairs disease, headache, diarrhea to incurable diseases abroad, if combined, can be better used in individual African countries for our medical services. After all the money wasted and “miracles” of those specialists are exhausted, many of them are sent back home to die.

African professors have heard about cases where foreign treating hospitals are not familiar with African Super Bugs that can only be cure by local herbs not known to far away countries. There are many diseases that are country specific since most medical trainings are geared to their localities. So it may be true that those African medical students trained only in western medicine may be useless when faced with treating local bugs or upstairs psychosocial diseases. Indeed, tropical specialists and professors in most prestigious schools overseas spend their sabbaticals in Africa to update their medical knowledge and experience.

There are some exotic diseases that break out once in a while in different locations in the world and some of these had their localities in African countries. Lassa fever, Ebola and Marburg virus are studied in the school of Public Health in the western countries so that they can deal with it, for fear of importation home. Scientists have their prejudices like everyone else and tend to sound a greater alarm if a disease originates from Africa as if none comes from their localities.

If the American Indians had sounded similar alarms when the new comers came, many of their local population may not have been wiped out from the exotic diseases brought in by “aliens”. The fear of man to man may reduced if we face and treat the diseases instead of dehumanizing others. Such are the Super Bugs which must be attacked from all sides with every weapon at our disposal or we all perish gradually. Fortunately, we have learned from the medical engineering of the past century to isolate and treat the sewage system in our environment, no matter where we are. Some cultures build toilets outside the main house.

Super Bugs have always been very difficult to treat when they appear anywhere in the world. In the field of Public Health, infectious diseases have been a great area of concern even when we became complacent in the early eighties thinking infectious diseases are only limited to certain areas of the world. So whenever we have an outbreak, first suspicion points to the developing countries because of lack of enough medical facilities and personnel to deploy as first mode of attack. Western countries Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are just as guilty of infecting neighbors as those in developing countries.

The development of AIDS/HIV in the rich countries may have changed attitudes in spite of the fact that the old suspicion of blaming developing countries die slowly. The break out of Legionnaire disease, bird flu; and genetic mutation as a result of chemical spray in Europe, America and Asia have brought to light some highly resistant Super Bugs in lower animals that may cause disease and have caused diseases in humans. Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus from mosquitoes to man in the cold countries during the summers calls for spraying of more chemicals to destroy them.

Virus unlike bacteria has always been very difficult to treat until HIV became a devastating killer in the world. Progress has been made, including the use of vaccine for seasonal influenza flu, if administered. Fortunately, medical research and experience in the treatment of virus has alerted us to how to deal with bacteria that have become resistant to treatment. Some of these bacteria were old familiar diseases we have conquered in the past but have resurrected as Super Bugs.

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Articles by Farouk Martins Aresa