By Grace Nakato
Ebola, with a kill rate of 90 per cent, is in town. So our president, knowing our laissez faire attitude to health, decided that the least he could do is warn us of physical contact — the main form of transmission.
He needs to repeat these warnings daily because in this town, there are only two dance moves; winding or bend-over — each requiring lots of contact. And it’s party time 24/7, 365 days a year.
Ebola, a form of hemorrhagic fever, manifests like a bad case of food poisoning or a major hangover. Symptoms include headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat and weakness, followed by diarrhoea, vomiting and red eyes. These are the same symptoms that drunken employees cure with a mug of hot mulokony (hoof soup) or a steaming plate of katogo.
In my view, however, the disease seems to be spreading very fast because the powers that be do not watch CSI. As you know, once a virulent disease is reported in a region, men in white suits and gas masks from the CDC (Centre of Disease Control) descend upon the town and the army sets up barricades and quarantine the habitat.
If news reports trickling in are anything to go by, people are fleeing their villages to seek refuge elsewhere, with the braver ones leaving Kampala to ‘rescue’ their kin from the deadly disease.
Medics meanwhile have apparently not been ‘empowered’ to recognise the symptoms, let alone deal with the disease, and are frightened of treating patients with interesting symptoms.
That’s hardly surprising. Humans are cowards. We lack fangs, scales, claws, odorous fumes or poison to protect us from danger. That is why running feet are our weapons of choice. Yet fleeing the scene through mass hysteria is why Ebola will continue to spread.
It would, however, be a fruitless venture for the government to declare a state of emergency when only 14 people have been reported dead compared to the thousands we lose to malaria, which only requires a mosquito net to prevent; or Aids, which can be kept at bay with a rubber sheath.
Seriously, the game plan needs to change, and I am sure a number of crooks registered NGOs last week to ‘research the disease, search for a vaccine and counsel frightened citizens’.