Ebola vaccine trial…to be or not to be?

Source: Ghana|Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane|naabd61@yahoo.com
Date: 26th-june-2015 Time:  1:46:58 pm

From all the drama that has been happening in parliament (stemming from Professor Alex Dodoo describing a parliamentarian as ignorant) to the ongoing debate as to whether the Ebola vaccine trial should be allowed in Ghana, I dare say that it has been an interesting month of controversy surrounding the Ebola vaccine trial which is yet to be conducted in Ghana.

As a student of medicine, when I first heard about this exercise which was to be carried out in the Volta Region, just like any well-meaning Ghanaian, I had my own reservations about this.

I am not against the idea of a trial at all but I believe that it is sometimes necessary to be skeptical about certain things and it is about time people put an end to that attitude of being ready to swallow everything hook, line and sinker.

Well, I cannot deny that I have benefitted greatly from vaccination against the six killer diseases in Africa.  Let’s face it.   If this trial goes well, then we may not have to suffer of the fate of over 10,000 who died from the most dangerous viral infection in recent times.

A vaccine is a visa for safety.

Vaccination has saved a lot of lives as much as it has ruined many. If you are reading this, it’s likely,a vaccine against polio or one of those killer diseases is partly responsible.

For instance, Edward Jenner’s vaccination exercise has saved millions of babies from the cowpox disease.  He has widely contributed to the world of immunization through his cowpox inoculation trial.  This also led to prove further that immunity against cowpox also protects an individual from small pox as well.

Today, the vaccine that Edward Jenner developed is being used around the world and has saved a lot of lives.

Nobody knows John Salk . Do you?

Well, he is the name behind the first ever successful polio vaccine and was being used around the world to cure poliomyelitis.  This was done in 1952 by using HeLa cells and administered by injecting the dead poliovirus into the body.  In 1957, human trials using the oral vaccine developed by Albert Sabin began.  These two vaccines have reduced the rate of mortality due to poliomyelitis thus from 350,000 cases in 1998 to 223 cases in 2012 , according to statistics by the World Health Organization.

The first effective tetanus vaccine was found in 1924 by treating the tetanus toxin with formaldehyde and injecting it into human volunteers.  This vaccine, like that of polio, became very useful and prevented a lot of deaths as well.

In some places, however, vaccines are thought to have done more harm than good and sometimes may not work as effectively as they should.  Are you still in doubt?

Well, I chanced upon some rather quite interesting information on vactruth.com where I found out that there have been several cases where vaccination exercises have failed. I will provide you with five of these startling revelations.

In 2009, two doctors were found to have contracted measles after being vaccinated.  As if that was not enough, there was a major measles outbreak in Quebec which affected 1,363 people.  It was found out that about 99% of the population had been vaccinated.

There was another outbreak of measles but this occurred in Illinois among High School students. There were twenty-one cases of measles recorded ; 16 were vaccinated, 4 were unvaccinated preschool children and 1 was a vaccinated college students.  This event led to a conclusion that measles can be transmitted within a school population with 100% immunization level.  If this can happen with measles, then we must as well get ready for any case of ebola just in case it occurs.

Another incident occurred in Lithuania where  53 children showed signs of pertussis out of the same 53 children who were vaccinated against the disease. This occurred in 2001.  Highly ineffective and disappointing result, isn’t it?   Well, you haven’t seen the last of vaccine trial failures.

There was an outbreak of chickenpox in 2006 after the varicella vaccine was suggested to students.  After the admission period, there were 84 cases of chickenpox even though there was a 97% vaccine coverage.  A similar vaccine coverage was recorded in 2010 among the Jewish Communities living in the United States but this time, it was a case of a failed mumps vaccine.

This is not the only site that seems to have lost hope in the exercise called vaccination. I also found out (online) from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that Tuberculosis vaccines do not offer full protection for newborn babies and children.  These vaccines also do not prevent pulmonary Tuberculosis in adults.

Also, the NCBI bookshelf reveals that in some areas of Europe and North America, the difference between vaccinated sections and those that did not receive the vaccines were not too far apart in terms of their Tuberculosis declined rates.  Clearly, this goes on to prove that 100% potency of a vaccine trial cannot be assured.  Anything could go wrong with the ebola vaccine trial just like all these cases that have been stated.

As Ghanaians, I think it is very relevant to analyze the consequences of this vaccine trial critically by taking everything these ‘promoters’ say with a pinch of salt even when we are told that the first phase of the trial is harmless.  I believe more education must be done and more questions must be answered in a time like this.

Secondly, in as much as the trial would bring a lot of money to our IMF bailed-out country, I believe that we must look at the issue of equality and fairness with regard to the compensation being given to other countries across the world.   Yes, the Americans have injected themselves but did they do it for Ghc200 and a cell phone only?  Sorry to disappoint but it has been reported that a volunteer in the United States is to receive $1,700 as a reward or compensation for all the inconveniences caused due to this exercise.  Won’t the people of the Volta Region also experience some inconveniences as well?  Then why are they being given this meager sum of money as compensation and a cell phone to enhance communication in case they experience any symptom after the shots?

In conclusion, the Ebola vaccine trial is a great idea but in a country where a number of people died of common cholera due to our inability to keep our environment clean, do you still think that Ghana is ready for this particular trial?

My name is Tax!

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Hello everyone!

My name is Tax

I don’t owe anyone

Yet people enslave me

I am patient

But people continue to play hide and seek with me

That infuriates me

I am ignored by the rich

While they go about making money

Business tycoons try to evade me

Celebrities and criminals snub me

Even the poor run away from me

But while they make their money

I sit here busily scheming

Cooking up a plan of revenge

Giving them ample time to repent

But they never do

The thieves continue stealing

When they get caught

Those liars claim it’s their debut

It infuriates me

Because my demands are payable

One day,

I sent my friend ,Mr.Nemesis,

He surely caught up with them

Mr.Justice put them behind bars

Mr.Cell advised them never to cheat

They begged for Mercy

But instead encountered Mr.Scott

who never set them free

till Mr.Cedi visited me.

Why I choose to die

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Source: Ghana| Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane
Date: 18th-june-2015 Time:  1:32:16 pm

“I felt faint. Sweat dripped all over my body.  My head pounded like a bass drum. I rushed to the hospital. My Erythrocyte Sedimentation rate (ESR) was about thirty times the normal rate.  As for my haemoglobin level, it was at 2.0.  The biopsy and the blood tests revealed cancer.  I was told this cancer (which was living in my blood) could only be managed by chemotherapy.

I had heard numerous stories of how painful this procedure was.  It meant that I would lose all my hair as well; the hair that I had painstakingly grown for years.  At that point, several thoughts kept rushing through my mind – anger, pain, hopelessness. It was a mixed feeling.”

If this voice were mine, what would I do?  If I were caught in the net of terminal illness, where would I run?   If palliative care were my only option, which road would I take?  Would it be life or death?

This brings to mind the subject of “Euthanasia”.  If death’s hands are icy enough to grip, then why assist it?  In this article, I will tell you why it is sometimes necessary ; why euthanasia still remains an option for many on their death beds.  Let us begin with some background information on euthanasia.

First of all, euthanasia is a combination of two Greek words “eu” which means “good” and “thanatos” which means “death”. Juxtaposing these two words, euthanasia can be defined as the act of permitting the death of ill or injured people due to certain reasons (usually reasons of mercy).

There are different categories of euthanasia.

Voluntary euthanasia (Physician Assisted Suicide) involves ending a person’s life in a painless manner.

Non-voluntary euthanasia (mercy killing) is performed when the patient is not able to provide informed consent due to the patient being in a comatose state or in the case of incapacitated young children. This was practiced in Ancient Greece as a form of eugenics.

Other groupings of euthanasia include passive and active euthanasia.  Passive euthanasia involves either withholding common treatments that are essential for the survival of the patient or taking the patient off the life-support machine.  Active euthanasia involves the use of lethal substances to kill the patient.

Certain countries like the United States of America (Oregon and Washington), some parts of Mexico, Colombia and Japan practise it.  In Australia, euthanasia was once legal but it is currently illegal.  The ‘legal status’ of euthanasia in Africa is not known ; therefore euthanasia is deemed illegal in Africa.

There have been several debates on euthanasia. Two of these debates are very popular – the Slippery Slope debate and the Len Doyal Argument.

In the Slippery Slope debate, it was argued that if voluntary euthanasia is allowed to occur, all the other forms of euthanasia that are deemed illegal would eventually follow suit. This argument was supported by David Enoch, a professor of philosophy and law at Hebrew University.

The Len Doyal Argument was advocating for the legalization of active euthanasia and physician assisted suicide.  This is what Len Doyal stated: “ If death is in a patient’s best interest then death constitutes a moral good.”

There are also several demerits of euthanasia aside all these debates.

Euthanasia is associated with suicide and murder.  It is stated in Section 57, Act 29 (1960) of Ghana’s constitution that : “A person who abets the commission of suicide commits a first degree felony whether or not the suicide is actually committed.”

This implies that anybody who is involved in this practise can be penalized.

People also believe that euthanasia is against certain moral and religious views.  They claim that a higher being (God) was the one who gave that person life, therefore that life should not be taken away through any other process which is not natural.

Dr. Leon Rass, Chairman of the President’s council on Bioethics, stated in his article Why Doctors Must not Kill: “Nor shall any man’s entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to assisting suicide. They are inheritors of a valuable profession.” This statements aim at supporting the claim that practicing euthanasia would eventually make patients lose their trust for doctors.

People also raise the point that the practice of euthanasia is against the Hippocratic Oath, the section of the oath that states that: “I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked”.

Some people also believe that in most cases of patients with terminal illnesses, there is (at least) a certain chance of survival.  This means that there is no hundred percent guarantee that the patient would die.

I do not dispute all these concerns that have been raised against euthanasia.  However, I would like us to go back to the picturesque description of that individual diagnosed with cancer.  I have two tangible reasons why euthanasia should be the  option in such circumstances.

Euthanasia promotes economic growth in the sense that it saves government and families the cost of catering for terminally ill patients. Even though there is a certain chance of survival, these chances are normally too slim.

The patient eventually dies in most cases.  Some families are burdened with huge hospital bills as a result of the life-support machines which are used to keep patients alive.  Some patients end up staying in coma for years and most of them eventually die.

Even those who survive most become vegetables and are of no use to humanity. Families are left with the life-long burden of footing the bills after the death of these patients.

On the other hand, practicing euthanasia would save all the money used in powering these life-support machines.  This money could be invested in something equally beneficial.

Finally, euthanasia serves as a relief to patients suffering from prolonged terminal illnesses that are accompanied by excruciating pain.  If you had the feeling that you were being pricked by a thousand knives, you bleed profusely from any opening of the body or simply put – you experience a combination of the most terrible symptoms of all diseases, would you blame the voice that says: “I choose to die”?

THE CROSS

Gone are the days

When the church

Used to be a place of refuge.

A place to be set free;

A home where the poor could seek help.

The tables have turned.

The church is now a money-making enterprise.

The significance of the cross has been forgotten.

Like a time bomb, everybody is waiting to explode.

No one is really ready to bell the cat.

Sermons are now missiles ready to hit the culprit.

Money is now the issue. 

The church is no longer a refuge. 

It has become a haven of immorality with a sense of immortality.

Lies are now said to be true

and the truth said to be lies.

The world has become churchy,

the church – so worldly.

No place is safe. 

The only place left is the cross.