TOO LATE TO BAR EBOLA BODIES - SPECIALIZE IN TROPICAL DISEASES

What is the connection between foul corps of looters, Ebola and Boko Haram? Chasing calamity we could have prevented. We always have heated discussions about how our African professors training medical students have failed us since our medical schools rated below world standard. We glorify international hospitals that rejected rich and famous corpses aggrandized back home, to vilify standard that could have prevented Ebola or anticipated Boko Haram daily dead bodies.

United States have imported Ebola virus afflicting their own citizens to save only two valued lives. Africans cannot expect U.S to fly them in too. We do not have to be a Tola of all trade and master of nothing. We have diseases in our environment we failed to specialize or train for ages.

It is better to explore what we already have and might have worked for a few than to sit on our hands waiting for miracle from heavens or western countries. The concept is a step in the right direction. U.S. Center for Disease control is working on vaccine. A serum that is now cloned for treatment is based on some plants, probably from Africa. Of course we'll see false starts. Efforts on Ebola cure by Pro. Maurice Iwu, an ethnophamacology with bitter cola-nuts, was a sham.

Each of the African countries is now barring one another from crossing through porous borders into territories as if border cousins care. Mobilize public health information by health aides and educated traditional workers; integrate it with diseases as AIDS infectious only through bodily fluid and bodies must be abandoned on the streets: call local councils. Opportunist, preachers, or witch doctors commercializing it, must be warned that aberration will be severely dealt with.

Since 1976, Ebola was noted or discovered in East Africa. As soon as world organizations came and helped us contain it, African politicians went to sleep and continued wasting our resources on prestigious projects and wars that have no meaning to the increasing poor. Instead created a fertile ground for recruitment by militias like Boko Haram, some called the brother of al Qaeda, resulting in preventable deaths, wounded and broken hearts. If it is not Boko Haram, it is Ebola.

Before we condemn everyone, we must give due respect to African medical pioneers that killed small pox, saw Ebola, Cholera, Onchocerciasis, other viruses, bacteria and parasitic diseases. Instead of arguing about world and international standards, Africans like Adeniyi Jones, Olikoye Kuti and Adeoye Lambo, others too many to mention argued for standard that could have made us experts at least in our endemic area. They did not call it local standard but it was obvious.

Our problem is not banning dead bodies of Ebola we know but hug with open arms or kiss dead bodies of plunderers we know little about since we are more interested in aggrandizement even in death and replication of standards that are unsustainable. No matter the cost, when we acquire prestigious device, we buy and discard, never use and maintain. Such culture of neglect cannot support international standard we yearn so much. Even little Cuba trains good doctors.

Our medical students and graduates cannot compete with international medical students that are trained for their local diseases. Today acupuncture is internationally accepted and Chinese medical professors are invited worldwide to train European and American medical students. Indeed, it would be strange to graduate from Chinese Medical schools without acupuncture. But it is acceptable for our students to graduate without any training in traditional medicine.

Oh, they always pay lip service to inclusion of traditional medicine in the curriculum of schools but the conservative British trained physicians and teachers would not let it stand. At the same time, some of them are children of Babalawo that personalize their knowledge, sell the father's combination of herbs to their patients selfishly without publishing them in medical journals for others to learn and repeat in separate laboratories. Recall snow as example in physics in Africa.

There are some academic looters looking for grants. Prof. Isaiah Ibeh, Dean of Basic Medical Sciences University of Benin, also claimed to have found AIDS cure until he was denounced by his colleagues. Gen. Malu even vouched for Doctor Abalaka's treatment of soldiers. So was Kofi Kankam, Sefwi-Boako Herbalist, in Western Ghana. All claims for AIDS cure so far are elusive.

There are so many traditional remedies that the schools of pharmacies should have studied for their efficacy and regulated by dosage while eliminating impurities in their laboratories. There is nothing about Bunsen burner or Petri dish that cannot be locally replicated or even improved on. Take dialysis machine for example, it has changed so much over the years that if you trained ten years ago, one would have to go back to school again. It's enough time for local replication.

If Africans cannot boast of international standard, we can be known as world experts in tropical diseases. So many African students trained in Europe and American universities are specialists in their fields. Most of the old universities teaching hospitals in Nigeria have first class and fully equipped specialist wards at the top of their hospitals that many of the looter's corps sent back home, refused to patronize. That is after spending so much on equipment and specialists.

Africans always complain about the lack of equipment and international standard laboratories in our schools. As long as we want their standard, we will never be well equipped. Africa has the biggest laboratory in the world for field study in infectious diseases. This is an advantage we refuse to take into account, but widely used by world scientists during their summer vacations to update and learn more about infectious disease. Ours learn standard to abscond abroad.

We can seek cooperation from outside just as outsiders can seek our cooperation in solving endemic problem but relying on outsiders to develop cure for our tropical diseases that we are more familiar with, is no different from children begging others for food on European and American television. After these years, Nigeria should be able to demonstrate some discoveries.

This is not the time for Africans to start feeling sorry for themselves waiting for help. They must push politicians into action for this outbreak and future one, so that they do not react after the fact. They must be proactive and willing to show diligence.

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Articles by Farouk Martins Aresa