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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

“I don’t want to die” she cried

By Chinwe J. Obinwanne

It is scary. It is absolutely scary. The simple thought of having your loved one so sick, yet you are powerless in caring for them. The thought of running away from the very person you are supposed to be caring for in their very hour of need is nothing short of devastating.

Let’s turn the tables now, shall we? What of the thought that we could be dying and not be able to hold the hands of those we love or even see their faces to tell them how much we love them. To tell them we will miss them. Or even to tell them not to cry. It is the kind of death no one wishes for. Yet it is the death that many across West Africa are presently subjected to.

Ebola stole into this region like a thief in the night and started stealing people from their loved ones. This dreaded disease is such a killer that an absolutely normal person could turn to a corpse just within weeks of contracting it. It kills that fast.

Mothers have watched their children die and the heartache of watching as the child writhed in pain crying “I don’t want to die” had pushed many mothers to the arms of their babies. What did Ebola do? It sniggered at the apparent love and pain of the mother and simply sank its deadly fang inside of the mother.


I choose to describe this disease as a merciless killer devoid of any iota of pity. Imagine the annoyance Ebola felt when decades passed without anyone paying heed to him. Instead what did the world do? They cried over Al Qaeda attacks and corruption. It annoyed him even more when Africa decided to concern themselves with corruption, politics, oil and the likes.

Just when he had somehow found his domineering self within Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea; it looked at the giant of Africa, Nigeria and got the shock of his life. These folks were making so much noise but not about him…. They were shouting over the kidnap of the Chibok girls by the dreaded Boko Haram sect. They hadn’t even spared a thought at how easy it would be for him to sneak into their country. They hadn’t even thought of how much dread he bore compared to that of the said sect. They had completely ignored him. What to do, he thought?

Oh, yes! Patrick Sawyer was just the right human to plant the missile in. And so he did. Overnight, Nigeria’s cry changed from Boko Haram to Ebola in one breath. Overnight, every citizen began to avoid and even suspect those they called family and friends. Overnight, Ebola made himself more popular than any celebrity. And then he sat down and smiled broadly while he remembered how his journey began in 1976.

It all began in August 26, 1976 in Yambuku, a small village in Mongala District in the northern Democratic Republic of Congo; then known as Zaire. The virus had snaked himself inside of a poor village school headmaster Mabalo Lokela who had gone on a tour to an area near the Central African Republic border along the Ebola river. This tour was between August 12-22 and he sadly passed away on September 8 of the same year. He was the index case and soon after, many other cases started filtering in.  
This was the first known case of this deadly virus. Here’s the interesting thing about this 1976 outbreak of the Ebola virus.

The virus was contained by the World Health Organization by doing these: quarantining villagers, sterilizing medical equipment and providing protective clothing. Sounds quite simple a process to contain such a wicked killer virus right? If it is that simple, why is it spreading like wild fire in a country like Liberia? Could it be fear?

Dr.Yewande Adesina, Special adviser on Public Health to the Lagos state government was on the show Straight Talk With Kadaria Ahmed on August 27 to state that there is healthy fear which is good; she maintained that that sort of fear was necessary to get people doing the needful to avoid the spread of the virus. She then stated that there is that fear that tips over to the point of panic which is bad. This was the sort that pushed people to consuming bitter kola and salt water in a bid to avoid contracting the virus. This action actually took many people to the hospital. The one thing they were trying to run away from.

In that same session, Dr Adesina advised that people take their personal and environmental cleanliness serious, keep to their own space and wear gloves when attending to a sick person. Doing these simple things, she says will go a long way in containing the spread of the Ebola virus.  Environmental cleanliness she says? Just this morning, I saw a grown man flipping out his penis and urinating in an open space like he was in his toilet. Apparently he hadn’t gotten the memo!

Will there ever be a cure?

It would puzzle many as to why a cure hasn’t since been found for this virus but many scientists across the globe have battled to get one. 

The news was rife with alleged Ebola experimental drug Nano silver being sent to Nigeria. That news was quashed shortly after when US scientists tagged it a pesticide. The ray of light that many Africans held on to for dear life was the experimental drug ZMapp produced by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. Imagine the shock and disappointment when US President Barack Obama said it was too early to get it to Africa. The British government however did send some of the drug to Africa.

At the moment, no known cure for the virus is available and there is no saying if the persons who got well after getting the ZMapp were cured by the drug. However, strong immune system has helped some people overcome the deathly grip of the virus.

The Ebola virus has gripped us in the jugular threatening to squeeze even harder. What we can do to help ourselves and others is abide by directives of the WHO found here and make so much noise about this deadly virus so that even the deaf will hear the noise.

The population in Nigeria is too massive to be hit by something as merciless as this and we owe it to ourselves to educate even the people in the grassroots about the disease and how to prevent it. While we are at it, other state governors aside from Lagos state governor, should begin to get things in place just in case a case of Ebola is reported in their state.

The agony that this disease brings isn’t one that anyone would wish even their worst enemy, so let us look Ebola in the eye and fight it with all we’ve got. Let us wipe that smirk from his ruthless face by making sure to contain it so much that the very life is snuffed out of it.

Let us preach it folks! And pray for the souls of the dead to rest in peace.
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