Let us search for local coronavirus solutions
By Elias Mokua | May 27th 2020
Many people have friends, relatives or persons who depend on them. Dependence is not a bad thing as long as the person in need has justifiable reasons. People who have been ravaged by floods, for example, will be dependent on good Samaritans until they pick up the pieces of their lives.
Evaluating the way Kenya has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, one is inclined to think we are a dependent nation. We have two action spaces. The local sovereign state space where we have full independence to decide and act the way we want and the international space where we are interdependent. However, on Covid-19 response, saying we are interdependent is an overstatement.
Locally, the positive initiatives the government has taken to break the spread are laudable. The unfortunate side, where the government’s “full force of the law” tends to be natural in criminalising people and punishing them, is shameful.
The lockdown and the curfew are great measures to curb the coronavirus spread. No one can downplay the government intention and daring initiatives to ensure compliance to measures meant to save lives. This much, we must be proud of our government. But, execution of the initiative is something else.
This brings me to the point. Is there such a thing as negative dependence? Yes. There are people who clearly depend on the misery of others to thrive. If the misery is alleviated, they would do everything to generate crises, leading to new misery. Let us wade into the Covid-19 vaccine debate.
At the international level we are considerably helpless. The global debate is that coronavirus can only be eliminated once a vaccine is found. The companies that should generate vaccines, so the arguments goes, are out to make profit because they knew a pandemic will come that will require their intervention.
Moreover, several conspiracy theorists have emerged, giving all sorts of explanations why a vaccine is either the only solution or not. The fascinating counter argument focuses on boosting our immunity and, voila, all is fine! The big challenge is that neither the Kenya government nor the medical experts have meaningfully broken these debates down for us to understand and determine what strategic planning we need post-Covid-19. As it is, we are sunbathing, waiting for the big boys to run the race and bring us the goodies – prescriptions on how to secure our health.
Madagascar, at least, has thrown into the mix its solution to the pandemic. So, on what basis does a national participation process take place, for instance, in re-opening schools, if every Kenyan is going to take responsibility once the lockdown is lifted? What are the major medical and economic dilemmas that we need to interrogate, build consensus on and commit to if we are to successfully manage our lives post-Covid-19? For how long shall we depend on others to find solutions in order “to go for benchmarking”?
One of the main determining factors of whether one survives or succumbs to coronavirus is the strength of body immunity. The other, as we are told, is being immunised, which translates into boosting the immune system to fight coronavirus.
There are two problems here; does it mean the thousands of people who have lost their lives to the virus had low immunity? If so, do the developed countries such as Germany, Italy, France, UK, Spain and USA experience food insecurity? Why do the citizens in these countries suffer from low immunity if food security is highly guaranteed?
The second problem regards our food security levels. Most of the advice given in hospitals is that a patient needs to eat natural food to boost immunity. We are advised to eat, for example, sukuma wiki, chicken kienyeji and as much as possible, avoid organic foods. We can then minimise the risk of succumbing to coronavirus. Too bad, we have migrated from food sovereignty – eating natural foods – to near dependence on genetically modified foods, commonly known as GMOs.
Why is this critical preventive measure being given such a low level attention at the expense of brutalising everyone to compliance of the short term measures outlined to stop the virus spread? Must WHO prioritise this so that we can also start setting it as a priority national agenda?
It will help all of us if we think of local solutions to the Covid-19 pandemic. We can learn from other countries, but depending on them 50 years after independence is bad manners.
Dr Mokua lectures on media and communications studies
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