As of this writing, the World Health Organization (WHO) had reported that at least 4,500 West Africans had died as a direct result of contracting the raging deadly Ebola Virus. According to WHO officials, an estimated range of 5,000 to 10,000 cases of the Ebola Virus were likely to be recorded in the West African sub-region nearly every week in the near future.
That the disease has killed a considerable number of health and medical workers, makes the situation all the more alarming. For this writer, though, it was an article captioned “Ebola: Don’t Have Sex With Guinean Players, Fans – WHO Cautions Ladies In Tamale” MyJoyOnline.com 10/16/14) that got me thinking beyond normal. The article deals with the Confederation of African Football (AFCON)-sponsored soccer tournament between Ghana and Guinea, shortly before this present column was composed and published.
For those of our international readers who may not know this, AFCON is the regional soccer-sponsorship representative of FIFA or the Internatonal Federation of Football Associations. We also know that Guinea is one of the three hardest-hit epicenters of the Ebola Virus in the West African sub-region. The other two epicenters are Liberia and Sierra Leone. Already, the disease has reportedly traveled beyond West Africa into other parts of the world, notably the United States of America and Europe, particularly Spain. In the era of rapid global air transportation, such occurrence is only to be expected.
My problem here, though, regards the inexcusably scandalous decision of AFCON and FIFA not to promptly suspend the three hardest-hit countries from the tournament, until such time that health professionals and other medical authorities could assure the rest of the world that this “Bubonic-type” of an epidemic has been effectively contained, or brought down to a level where the possibility of it further spreading into areas that had hitherto not known the same was next to zilch.
As of this writing, there clearly did not appear to be any palpable reason to believe that such a bottoming up or peak situation had been reached. And so the logical question here becomes: Why have AFCON and FIFA, and also the United Nations Organization (UN), not moved to have the possibility of the further spread of the Ebola Virus stemmed or contained, by promptly suspending the hardest-hit nations from its regularly sponsored tourneys? Or are we being curiously made to understand that revenue generated from these soccer tourneys is more significant than the inescapable danger entailed by having the Ebola-Virus epicenter countries actively participate in the same?
Of course, the legitimate case could be made that Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia were being discriminated against through no apparent fault of their own. But would such an argument carry any remarkable heft, or weight, in view of what the rest of the global community knows about the nature, spread and impact of Ebola? Better yet, why couldn’t the tournament be suspended altogether, globally, while politicians and health and legal experts put their heads together to find a lasting solution to this deadly epidemic?
In the case of the AFCON tournament between Ghana and Guinea, the resident representative, or Focal Officer, of the World Health Organization in Ghana, Ms. Joana Anson, reportedly issued an advisory warning off sex workers and other soccer-player-loving Ghanaian women residents of Tamale, the capital of Ghana’s Northern Region, from having sex with the visiting Guinean soccer players and their fans, despite the fact that, for the most part, prior to their being allowed into the country, these Guinean soccer stars and their fans had been either tested or screened for the presence of the Ebola Virus in their bodies.
According to Ms. Anson, “Even when [a man] who has contracted the disease has been tested and declared fit [by medical and health experts] the virus still stays in his semen for a period of six to seven weeks,” assuming that the carrier-victim lives that long or survives the disease.
That Ms. Anson’s advisory is decidedly lame and utterly belated, in view of what we already know about the coital/sexual habits of our people, most especially in the face of dire economic straits, is all the more reason why a far more stringent and effective Ebola-fighting policy agenda ought to be doggedly pursued.
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