Thursday 13 July 2006

Needing aid for those in charge against AIDS

Another Health Concern

Two health issues hit the news in Nigeria over the last week that excites both interest and concern. This especially where we have a health minister who could not be perturbed by the prevalence of fake and sub-standard drugs not only in chemists but in teaching hospitals – the bastions of excellence in healthcare research and delivery.

So, it did not surprise me when the President placed a travel ban on him for not seeing through necessary reforms in his ministry.

However, one sees a problem with the coterie of professors either in education or health who at the peak of academic excellence are offered the opportunity to serve as ministers in Nigeria in the hope that their understanding of the system would being needed radical change for the good.

Professing and doing well

It is arguable that the only Minister of Health of professorial integrity that really did do anything of note was Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, others have vegetated into the grandeur of office and political influence seeking fawning sycophancy without achieving anything of note.

The same can be said of professors in the ministry of education who have presided over more disruption in universities and polytechnics that an illiterate might be better at keeping the peace and getting things going.

Helpers and succour

Back to the news items, this concerns the growing recognition of the threat of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria – having been through denial to tactic acceptance which was accompanied by stigmatizing affected people, we have now acknowledged that there might be up to 6 million people affected by HIV and its health consequences.

So, somewhere in Nigeria an organisation –Year of Ultimate Harvest (YOUTH) is working on restoring dignity, independence and means to people affected by HIV/AIDS, however, this event provided a platform so one of the beneficiaries to condemn the lukewarm attitude of the government and its organs to this health problem and sum up their whole campaign to arrest the disease to the simply the sharing of condoms.

It was nice to see ordinary people meeting up to exhort each other about how to deal with HIV/AIDS and the fact that the responsibility is collective rather than isolationist.

Knowledge in ignorance

Then in another event the Chairman of the National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA), Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin has observed the rising trend of homosexuality and linked that to a rise in infections with HIV.

He goes on to lament to the undercover activities of homosexuals prevents and precludes them from access to effective counselling, therapy and prophylaxis.

Well, we cannot on the one hand condemn homosexuality from the North with the sanction of death in Sharia Law or in the South where Puritanical apoplexy has created militancy against gay association and then expect the affected people to expose themselves to societal opprobrium and bigotry.

Seriously ignorant of the issue

Furthermore, to contend that homosexuality is foreign in the light of more research that indicates more genetic predispositions is to misunderstand the demographic of homosexuality specifically and that of the spread of HIV in Nigeria and Africa on a wider perspective.

Homosexuality has always been part of humankind, it predates the misinterpreted connotations of Sodom and Gomorrah, it has never been a Western, Eastern or African things, and it has always been a human thing.

The only difference is societies have changed and have become more accepting of things which until about 30 years ago were deplored and abhorred.

Homosexuals have still existed throughout the ages and they would not suddenly disappear except when mankind itself disappears.

Safer sex should be the message to all

Indeed, people should stay away from risky behaviours as the professor exhorts and that comes with safer sex practices amongst heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals and probably hermaphrodites.

There was a time when the highest risk profile just covered homosexuals, but the greatest growth of the disease is amongst heterosexuals.

The ABC program of Abstinence, Being faithful and Condoms is a force for good where those principles can be taught and the parties can exert their rights at each level.

However, the lesson from both news stories would indicate that people would freely want to collaborate with YOUTH on matters concerning their HIV health than with an academic assessment of issues that offer no understanding of the person behind the disease and their modalities of engagement.

These professors are probably better sealed up in some research lab looking for cures than being exposed to pontificating opportunities that offer no solutions to the problems at hand.


Aidsmap | Five million new HIV cases in 2004, women and girls bear the brunt

VirusMyth – Rethinking AIDS

How Homosexuality is inherited

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