FROM BUKIDNON TO THE WORLD: My Covid African Experience
By Ruby Yap
WA, Upper West Ghana (BukidnonNews.Net/27 August 2021) During the first year of the pandemic, Ghana, like the rest of world was shaken and brought to its knees. It was only until around August 2020 when the economy started to re-open. The lockdown has been lifted, airport has been opened (though the land borders has been closed until today) and everybody seemed to live normally - again.
Covid did not hit Ghana as much as other African countries or I would say other Third World countries. Many would say not only Ghana but the entire Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is not hit as much as other countries in Europe, America and Asia as scientists, economists and others expected with the exemption of South Africa.
My opinion in this matter is that, Covid literally attacks the immune system and the reason why so many people are affected in South Africa is because they have the highest cases of HIV in the whole SSA and that if you have HIV of course your immune system is already weak and then you easily get Covid so you will be hit harder and eventually die. That’s my honest non-medical opinion on the matter.
The rest of SSA is not really bothered by Covid because there are so many diseases in this continent, which are worse and more fatal than Covid.
Let’s take for example in my area here in the North of Ghana. When Covid hit the world, we were scared at first but then it was dry season here (March to May) there are more deaths in Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM) than Covid. CSM is more fatal since it is an airborne virus and once you catch it, boom! You’re dead in 48 hours if not taken for medical care. Then we have Malaria- it is also fatal especially the Malaria carrying mosquitoes in the dry season. So, we are more afraid of these diseases than Covid.
Though statistics shows more Covid fatality in the South of Ghana due to underlying illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. I would understand because the lifestyle in the South is different from the North.
So far in the statistics, we only have less than 10 deaths here (in May 2021). I am not not sure really because sometimes the government just show what they want to the donor countries or to the World Health Organization to get more Covid funding (that is another story to tell). I would say, most of the times I only got to realize there is Covid when I tuned in my TV to international channels which will remind me that the pandemic is hitting hard in Brazil, India and my beloved Philippines. Of course Covid comes up when I go out to the bank or to grocery or even visit offices because I have to wear mask.
On normal circumstances, everywhere in my place or even now in the capital and some cities in the South of Ghana, people don’t care or are bothered by wearing mask. They are just reminded because they were forced to wear mask when entering shops, banks, restaurants and of course washing of hands and the sanitizer. Other than that, no one is bothered.
When the government of Ghana received its first consignment of Covax (the first country in the world to get the consignment), people took time to get vaccinated and the government forced them to. The President has to address the nation and be vaccinated on live TV to convince the Ghanaians to get vaccinated.
Why is it like this? People are skeptical of the vaccine and even the virus itself.
Ebola is worse than this yet African people survived. I would understand the people’s reaction, being in this country for over 12 years and has travelled to other African countries. People just shrugged it off. They would just say, white man put diseases again in their continent like they always do. Which is basically true. They are always the guinea pigs of Big Pharmaceutical firms for all their vaccines and big-time medicines. Well, it was a known fact that the people in DR Congo was put on trial for a vaccine of Covid. Until it went out of hand and media caught it.
Our children here in the North of Ghana are guinea pigs of the newly discovered Malaria Vaccine which they say its 77 percent effective. Well, until it’s out we can’t say much.
Back to COVID, the hesitance against the vaccine here is high. There is so much skepticism. If this goes on, more people will get the virus, though so many are asymptomatic.
To address the complacency, we need the statistics to be more known to people especially the illiterates who depend on radio news only.
Also, the government needs more convincing strategy to let people believe that this is a real thing and not something to laugh about. Most people believe only once they feel it or experience it.
Anyway, it’s my take on this Covid thing issue. It’s a fact that I live in a different world and I see the strange part of how big pharmas work here and take life easily just because of so many factors.
I took my own vaccine not because I believed in it. I had no choice. I travel a lot and it’s a requirement, like Yellow Fever Vaccine. One cannot come to Africa without having that vaccine.
Former reporter and travel writer Ruby Yap hails from Malaybalay City until she became a VSO Volunteer in Africa. FROM BUKIDNON TO THE WORLD is an opinion column of BukidnonNews.Net dedicated to Bukidnon citizens who now live abroad. To contribute, email your piece and a personal profile to email@example.com.