Factors that affect the spread of infectious diseases are clime-specific, in the sense that what obtains in Europe and America may not be the same in Africa and other less developed continents. One of the factors that has helped Europe and America to adequately respond to emergency health situations, especially those created by infectious diseases, is their robust healthcare delivery systems and the availability of trained personnel who are not usually caught up in the brain drain syndrome like their counterparts in Africa.
Though the United States lost over one million people to COVID-19, many applauded the government’s efforts towards responding to the disease in a decisive manner through provision of PPEs, equitable distribution of vaccines and ensuring that medical personnel were well remunerated. The US President, Joe Biden, also announced that his country would produce and distribute half a billion doses of Pfizer vaccine to 92 low- and middle-income countries as well as the African Union via COVAX.
More so, with many interventionist agencies spread across different countries of the world, the United States has a reputation to protect when it comes to excellent healthcare delivery. In many African countries, the impact of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the prevention of communicable diseases cannot be ignored.
Having been declared a global health emergency, monkey pox that is spreading across many nations of the world, is currently being vigorously tracked by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in order to ensure that the spread is curtailed while the appropriate actions are taken by all stakeholders. While no deaths have been recorded so far, the United States has reported 21 cases of the disease. These cases have been identified in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and Washington states.
While the United States and countries in Europe have very stringent laws regulating the poaching and consumption of wild animals which have been identified as risk factors in the spread of the disease, Africa is still haunted by their governments’ indiscretions in this regard. The hunting of bush meat has become an indiscriminate venture in the continent, especially in West and Central Africa, where people openly hunt wild animals and consume them with careless abandon. In Nigeria, assorted wild animals are often displayed by roadsides as you travel from one point to another.
Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has warned that Nigerian purveyors of bush meat may have to abstain from consuming their prized delicacy for now. Whether they would adhere to this warning remains a matter of time in a country where hunting has become some persons’ only hope of eking out a living.
Despite the outcry by the NCDC, as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO) against careless consumption of meat, especially bush meat, many Nigerians seem not to be concerned about the health implications of their irrepressible appetites for the delicacy. This attitude, coupled with their inability to access quality health facilities, puts the average Nigerian in the category of medically endangered species.
Just as it was during the coronavirus crisis, many contacted the virus but did not know until they went for testing. Based on the foregoing, it is expedient to note here that halting the spread of any infectious disease requires the cooperation of both the government and its citizens.
Government on its part must make access to quality health facilities easy for citizens, most of whom depend on roadside herbal medicine sellers for their wellbeing. The general mindset among such citizens is that any ill health that comes with fever is either malaria or typhoid fever. This is one of the reasons the issue of self-medication has continued to persist in the country. If there were diagnostic centres which are subsidised or made free by government, many citizens would be protected from the nefarious activities of charlatans.
There is also the need to curb the immorality called bestiality as it could also frustrate efforts towards curbing the spread of infectious diseases, such as monkey pox. People who sleep with wild or tamed animals are also at a greater risk of contracting not only monkey pox but other infectious diseases that can lead to health emergencies.
According to the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC), “While the animal reservoir is unknown, small mammals (rope and sun squirrels, giant-pouched rats, African dormice) are thought to maintain the virus in the environments of West and Central Africa. People can get infected with the virus through direct contact with infected animals, often while hunting, trapping, and processing infected animals or the infected body parts and fluids of animals.”
To win the war against infectious disease, both government and citizens must balance the equation in terms of adhering strictly to a set of rules and targets. While government is expected to make all the necessary prophylactic and therapeutic health infrastructure available, they should also enforce laws that would guide the citizens in ensuring that violation is served with the appropriate sanctions.