Honouring our dead and the challenges of Covid-19

EDITORIAL 30 Jun 2020
Honouring our dead and the challenges of Covid-19

We, as Africans, have in most cases forgotten that we are what we have been destined to be: Africans. And as Africans bearing a credible identity, made lively by inalienable cultural values to justify our existence as a people. One of such cultural values is the honour the African accords to the dead. Unfortunately, with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, this unique sense of honouring our dead is being put to test. The option of the disposal of the corpses of victims of Covid-19 within a very short time, found itself among the preventive measures put in place to check the rapid spread of the pandemic.
To say, this measure was not a humiliation to many families whose loved ones had died, presumably under the cover of Covid-19 and, were forced to their graves as if, in their life time, they merited no honour, is to make a mockery of our dead. It is un-African. We are however consoled by a recent order from the Minister of Public Health, which now allows a period of forty-eight hours, during which the corpses can be buried with honour. We think this new disposition will certainly enable the families of the dead to make adequate arrangements for the funerals of their beloved ones as the departed who deserved to be paid the last respect with dignity in accordance with our African culture.
However, this is only one of the several social challenges that have been brought about by the outbreak of Covid-19 and the consequences are more devastating even than the direct effect of the pandemic itself. We want to believe that the most serious among these challenges, is the stigmatisation of victims of the pandemic, unfortunately through the comportments of some medical workers. It is a long established principle that in clinical or medical services, like every other discipline that involves the inter-action with human beings, the issue of ethics cannot be down-played, or toyed with, with impunity.
In the medical profession therefore, it takes a step or two above ordinarily respecting ethics of the profession. The medical profession involves the practice of saving lives as much as possible. It therefore remains a preoccupation of medical workers whose delicate assignment places them in a position which stands between life and death. In this case, the privacy of the status of a patient must be strictly respected in keeping with the ethics which medical workers at all levels have sworn on oath to defend.
We are saying this because, it now seems, to have become the habit of some unscrupulous medical workers, to reveal the health conditions of patients who are admitted in hospitals, both private and public, to friends or relatives, either intentionally, or out of the sub-conscious. This attitude certainly produces a very devastating stigma on those who might be suffering from one sickness or the other. The result is usually that, it will scare away patients from making themselves available to hospitals. It happened during the heat of the outbreak of the HIV-Virus some years back. Hundreds of thousands of patients of this virus must have died quietly in their little corners, wherever they might have been, for the fear of being identified with the pandemic.
Today there is no way we can run away from the fact that we are neck-deep into another round of a pandemic, perhaps more unfriendly than all the rest before it. We should therefore not allow the reckless attitude of some of our medical workers to put a wedge on our collective efforts to halt this advancing enemy. Nor must we fold our arms and watch hopelessly the reputation of our health and medical services being tarnished.
Obviously, these medical institutions are always our last hope in situations like this, from where no one should expect such bad news. The responsibility of salvaging the situation can therefore only be found to lie on the door steps of those who manage these medical institutions. We urge them to use every means at their disposal to track down such bad eggs and discipline in accordance with the rules. Time is running out on us.

About the author

Leave A Reply

Leave A Reply