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07.05.2020 Opinion

Covid-19 Pandemic – (2)

By Brig-Gen (Rtd) J. Odei
Covid-19 Pandemic – (2)
LISTEN MAY 7, 2020

The world has been taken by storm, lives have changed and many live in fear and from all indications the world will never be the same again. Man has developed and has made a lot of scientific achievements and yet it has a long way to go to find a solution to the pandemic. Man has been to the Moon, sent scientific and technological toys to explore Mars and other planets of the Universe but the simple fact still remains that man cannot live on any of those planets – not even the Moon which has been visited. It therefore stands to reason that Earth, the only habitable planet in the Universe is all that we have and the earlier we make it 'A BETTER PLACE' for us all, the better.

Coronavirus, like some invincible power, has conquered the world without the use of nuclear weapons, supersonic aircrafts, nuclear submarines and other sophisticated war tools. USA, the most powerful nation of the world, is on its knees looking for solutions to maintain its leadership of the world but has failed to realise that “glory and power belongs to God” (Rev 19:1). COVID-19 has come to reveal the weaknesses of the human race but has emphasized the importance of mankind to stick together for survival. If you think coronavirus is an act of China and not of God, then you must be joking. The end of COVID-19 is yet to come but there are obvious macro lessons at the international and local levels that are worth considering.

The Universe and the Planet Earth were created by God and the Bible tells us that He created us in his own image. He taught us to be humble, to love one another and to do unto others as we expect others to do to us. What do we see today? The developed world has created a lot of insecurity, fear, inequality, misery and rendered the United Nations (UN) ineffective. They have undermined and denied the world a better leadership through the UN to solve world problems. In some instances they impose their will on the rest of the world and turn round to blame the UN for ineffective leadership. Payment of countries' contributions have been used to blackmail the organization as President Trump is doing with the WHO's contribution. This act coming at this critical period of the world crisis is in bad taste and very unfortunate.

The collapse of the League of Nations formed after the First World War led to the Second World War and the subsequent formation of United Nations (UN). Unfortunately, the world did not learn from its mistakes and some major factors that led to the collapse of the League of Nations still remain. The formation of G7, G8, G20 etc, for example, is discriminatory and undermines the importance of the UN. It's surprising that up till now neither G8 nor G20 has convened to discuss the crisis, rather the WHO, an organ of the UN, has been targeted for all the bashing. The UN has virtually collapsed and this time not by a world war but an invincible enemy called COVID-19. The time has come once again for all nations rich and poor to commit themselves to the formation of a THIRD UNITED NATIONS with enough powers and resources to deal with world problems.

Due to the scientific achievements of the developed world, they believe that they are capable of doing everything by themselves with little regard to the Creator. They have taken 'civilization' to such ridiculous levels that gay marriages are officiated by ordained ministers of the church and they call it “human rights” and sadly coerce other nations to emulate. Coronavirus and the lockdowns have proved that riches, development, power etc. are all VANITY. Today, citizens of almighty America are dying like fowls and the arrogance and tweets of President Trump seem to suggest that he is confused. His promise of a vaccine coming soon to save them is far from the truth because, according to a team of researchers from Zhejiang University in China, 33 mutations of the new coronavirus (known as SARS-CoV-2 of which 19 were new) have been identified and warned vaccine developers the need to consider the impact of these accumulating mutations. In short, an effective vaccine may not be manufactured too soon.

The developed countries believed prior to the outbreak that their emergency preparedness and National Health Schemes (NHS) could not be faulted but they have been proved wrong. It is high time we turned to the Almighty God, the Creator for salvation. The world has sinned and continues to sin and what is happening suggests that the world has aroused the wrath of the living God. You may disagree with me but you are entitled to your opinion.

In Ghana, the first most important lesson is to jack up our emergency preparedness. As a National Coordinator for NADMO for four years, I can state empathically that the state of our emergency preparedness is zero. I am also convinced that the existing structures, human and logistic resources cannot cope with any disaster, let alone coronavirus. Historically, past governments have paid lip service to emergency preparedness mainly due to financial constraints and consequently it is considered not expedient to spend billions of cedis to prepare for events that may never happen. The outcome is what we have today.

NADMO which is mandated to manage disasters is a political tool and not an emergency organization and therefore lacks the professional expertise to manage disasters. The concept of our disaster management for so many years has been to wait for the disaster to happen and then distribute some few relief items as a way of mitigating the effects. This concept must change and a professional organization devoid of politics with the necessary infrastructure and resources to manage disasters be put in place. If the NHS of nations like the USA, UK, Spain, Italy, France, etc, has virtually collapsed, then Ghana has a long way to go.

The president's decision to build 80 district hospitals in six months is welcome but a comprehensive emergency organization involving the medical profession, fire service and others is strongly suggested.

Our research institutions also need overhauling and the over-reliance on Noguchi be reduced. Three more research institutions of Noguchi's standard are recommended to be established in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale to boost research. In addition, all research departments of all tertiary institutions need to be upgraded.

With the devastating effect of the COVID-19 on developed countries, many experts have predicted dire consequences for the African continent in view of the poor state of national health schemes. For countries south of the Sahara, many have recommended the digging of mass graves in anticipation of dead bodies that would be lying on the streets. However, the comparative figures of infected, treated and dead of the developed countries and that of Africa have proved otherwise. Many theories abound for the explanation of this phenomenon but in Africa we give thanks to the Almighty God. In Ghana, apart from divine intervention, the competent handling of the crisis by the president, COVID-19 emergency team, the doctors, nurses and the other ancillary medical staff have contributed to the low figures in casualties and they deserve our commendation.

There are already identified thirty-three mutations of the virus and maybe God has intervened and the virus in Africa is not as devastating as in Europe and the US. On divine intervention, I think Africa is more religious than the Whiteman who introduced the religion in Africa. Today in Europe, churches are being converted into other uses instead of worshipping God and it seems He is watching. We should, therefore, continue to pray, be vigilant and obey all instructions issued to contain the virus.

The low figures in Africa could also be attributed to traditional treatment of ailments associated with 'flu/virus'. Examples are the local herbs regularly used to treat sore throats, running nose, fever, headaches and similar symptoms of COVID-19 are in Akan with botanical names like esorowisa- (Piper nigrum), efom wisa- (Aframomum Corrorima), hwentia- (Xylopia Quintasi), ginger, garlic, etc. Besides the treatment of ailments, they are also used in the traditional cooking. Some people who have overcome the virus without resorting to hospital medications have claimed they survived by using these herbs in combination with lime and pineapple leaves. It may be possible that these spices have boosted/boost our immune systems.

With the restrictive movements relevant to the control of the pandemic, the reliance on other countries for basic requirements could be suicidal. There is the need to be self-sufficient in most of our basic needs. We need to grow what we eat and eat what we grow and the president's vision on industrialisation is very relevant.

We are not through with COVID-19 yet but issues of our Maker, United Nations and emergency preparedness will be very relevant to any post-mortem.  

From Brig-Gen (Rtd) J. Odei

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