Via GuineeConakry.info: MACENTA: MSF targeted by protesters, a thoughtful report by Boubacar Barry. The Google translation and then a comment:
Deaths are obviously not the only consequences of the epidemic of Ebola virus raging in Guinea since January. There with all the stringent precautions disease requires the populations are under enormous pressure.
This is clearly what is the basis for a demonstration on Friday, pushed populations Macenta to take humanitarian mission of the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and their facilities. Accusing humanitarian to be the basis of illness or stigmatizing behavior towards suspects, protesters forced them to abandon their work care of patients.
According to a source we contacted there, everything would be part of a mission that disinfection MSF team had to drive in a funeral home, Patrice neighborhood. The officials decided that mission after finding that the deceased had died of Ebola. But they did not reckon with the resistance that was against one of the occupants of the house in question. If the argument has not prevented MSF workers to follow their mission, she still helped revive prejudices that local people vis-à-vis the mission for MSF in its management disease.
Strict isolation recommended measures are in effect, not the taste of populations Macenta who interpret as "stigmatizing" for their loved ones. They do not appreciate either the stringent precautions are taken to deal with new cases. By extension, they suspect officials MSF to exaggerate the extent of the epidemic for commercial ends.
Social pressures and illiteracy are naturally multipliers of these prejudices. Consequently, young people then attacked the humanitarian NGO workers, and attacked their facilities. Fearing for their safety, they would have left the scene, according to the head of communications of MSF. Considering that the incident is due to a relatively isolated group of young, Sam Taylor believes his institution has the support of the majority of local and national authorities.
Caring for the sick he does not know if they left the isolated centers or not, Mr. Taylor considers it "is imperative that we go back to work faster." But first, it will be essential to strengthen the traditional channels of communication by identifying and targeting behavior change messages.
It's tempting to be scandalized by the attack on MSF staff, and to feel ourselves vastly superior to the irrational primitives whom MSF is trying to save. Tempting, but mistaken.
We in the supposedly advanced nations might reflect on how long it has taken us to get from regarding smoking as a pleasant, stylish recreation to understanding it as slow suicide via an addictive carcinogen. The battle is far from over.
We might also consider the current resurgence of measles, almost entirely due to a mixture of religion and egotistic arrogance: We know better than all those so-called experts, who all just want to make money and/or flout the will of God; vaccination just gets in the way of "natural" immunity.
This is certainly one of those days when Schiller's irrefutable observation comes to mind: Mit der dummheit, kämpfen Götter selbts vergebens: Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.
The gods, I suspect, are contending with us as well as the residents of Macenta and various fundamentalist churches.
In covering various outbreaks, I have read and posted countless news stories in which some harried health minister urges people not to eat mysteriously dead poultry. Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, China...if it's not poultry, it's getting rid of mosquito breeding sites in the back yard, or not using your mosquito net to catch fish.
Year after year, some Cambodian kids die because their thrifty, hard-working, poverty-stricken parents can't pass up a free meal. Whatever their governors were saying on the Cambodian Ministry of Health website might as well have been composed in Morse code.
In most poor countries, the gap between governors and governed is not just one of income or wealth; it's a cultural gap, deep and wide. Under most conditions, the governors like it just fine that way: It's easier to run things without any serious and coherent opposition.
Our own governors have made mistakes too, and we have our own Macentas: alienated individuals and whole communities who feel so out of control of their own lives that they trust no one but charlatans. For 60 years or more they've been vaccinated, taxed, drugged, drafted, and educated just well enough to get dead-end jobs (whose wages, we now realize, have stagnated for over 40 years)
I recall my own vaccination afternoon at Fort Ord in October 1963: We were barely off the train from LA, and they lined us up and marched us through a gantlet of medics using high-pressure gadgets to blast the vaccines right through the skin without needles. No one explained what we were being immunized against, and none of us asked. (And some of us, still not asking questions, went to Vietnam and died despite all our immunizations.)
Governors tend to be self-absorbed, and they prefer to talk with other governors—even their political adversaries—rather than sit down for a heart-to-heart with the people they rule. So the governed, left to themselves, keep feasting on dead chickens and bat soup and anti-vaccine propaganda. They may even get some physical or spiritual nourishment, if their diet doesn't kill them.
Until all the world's governors abandon dummheit and demagogy for thoughtful pedagogy, treating their governed as respected equals, we will see more outbreaks, and more Macentas. The gods will be contending with us for a long time.