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Monday 23 October 2017

Monkeypox: The Shady Military Medical Outreach And The Legitimate Suspicion By Biafrans

By Odira O. Udozo | Biafra Writers

October 24, 2017

Public health is the branch of medicine that specializes in preventing the occurrence and spread of diseases unlike the other branches like internal medicine, surgery that deals with curative. Public health deals with the people in their own constituency; it does not wait for patients in the hospitals but rather seeks them out in their homes, places of work, schools, etc. Public health intervention ranges from national emergencies like in the case of Ebola, Lassa fever carried out by a coalition of health experts to simple outreach embarked upon by even medical students. In all these scenarios, one thing is pivotal; the target community must be duly informed and consent sought (except perhaps in the case where people infected with Lassa fever or Ebola were isolated with or without their consent for obvious reasons).

The drama that played out last weeks in some parts of Biafra land(Southeast and South-South) where the Nigerian military were said to have embarked on a medical outreach of idiopathic intents to schools is highly condemnable, to say the least. One wonders if there weren’t any public health specialist within the ranks of the military to advise them adequately?

Firstly, the fact that they planned and conducted a medical outreach in schools without prior permission from the State ministries of health and education depicts the military as either oblivious of the fact that they submit to civilian authority or they were being mischievous. The Bayelsa State government released a communiqué directing any of such outreach to have a permit from the state ministries of health and education, meaning they were not aware ab initio. Is this not a total disregard and neglect of constituted civilian authorities in Eastern Nigeria and elsewhere by the Nigerian Military?

Secondly, in saner climes, giving medicines to minors without parental consent can be termed criminal, but here in Nigeria, anything goes. If the military must administer whatever they wanted to administer in its outreach, why did they believe the parents had no right to know or even decide if they want their children to partake in the administration? Do they even know that parents can decline such services? From the news that made the rounds, some schools had to close so that students can go home in order to evade the forceful vaccination. Had the military left the schools when turned down by some Principals and Head Teachers, who obviously never knew of such outreach until that morning, there wouldn’t be any need to shut down the schools. The military may have insisted on forcefully carrying it out as they had unilaterally scheduled. What then is the emergency they have on hands that couldn’t wait for proper sensitization; that even the State ministry of health is unaware of? A lot of questions indeed to be asked but it seems the military and those that control it do not give a damn.
By their actions, they have contravened the section of the Hippocratic Oath which stipulates that the physician must do no harm in carrying out its duties to the patient. Aside from the physical injuries, the pupils must have sustained running away from a perceived danger, the mental and psychological trauma might not leave those children for a long time to come; health is after all a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and in the absence of disease or infirmity.

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Many people have linked this face-off by the masses and the military to the python dance saga in the East, they accuse the Biafrans of being paranoid. They say there are Igbos, Ibibios, Ijaws, etc in the Nigerian military so  there cannot be a deliberate policy by the military to harm Easterners. There are Black Cops within the American Police Force, that has not stopped the American police in some states from being allegedly anti-black, with a lot of assault on the Blacks by White Cops cases pending in court. Where were the Ijaws in the military when Odi was leveled? The lopsided composition of the Nigerian military is not an unknown fact, why wouldn't the Biafrans not be defensive considering their meagre representation in the upper echelons of the Armed Forces?

The Nigerian state has not only lost this generation of Easterners, it seems the coming ones are already lost as well. Seeing those children using an adrenaline surge to flee from soldiers that were supposed to be theirs, soldiers they were supposed to approach for photographs and be proud of, shows the level of disenchantment the Biafrans have for the Nigerian state and what it represents.

Edited By Chukwuemeka Chimerue
The Biafra Times
[email protected]

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