By PROF DR HALIMU SHAURI
(Dean; School of Humanities and Social Sciences; Pwani University)
To date many people globally are not aware why or the philosophies around the COVID-19 mitigation measures.
I have been requested to shade light on this by one of my readers and I thought it wise to do so as I also pass key strong messages to all of us on what to do going forward.
As a student of Philosophy at the highest level – PhD, I feel obliged to bring to light the COVID-19 mitigation philosophies to the public domain to know and thereby suggest measures that can enhance their safety.
When the coronavirus broke out in Wuhan China in November 2019 a raft of mitigation measures were put in place.
Such measures include personal hygiene by washing hands and sanitizing, wearing masks and googles and social distancing.
As the infections progressed, globally more measures were put in place such as a ban on international travels, closure of boarders, self and mandatory quarantine, working and staying at home, isolation of the Infected.
PLETHORA OF MEASURES
More measures on handling the dead and burials. Locally, we have lock down of hot spot counties: Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi. Cessation of movement followed (7pm to 5am) curfew and now the latest being border closures with our neighboring countries. Why all these measures? I am asking.
While this plethora of measures is coming one after the other, and probably more are yet to come! Many people think this will make COVID-19 infections disappear!
I want to tell you candidly that corona virus will be with us for a while. This is not meant to scare anyone but to approach the pandemic from a realistic point of view.
As a scientist myself, I am aware of the rigor and time required to come up with an acceptable cure and vaccine, which is not less than 18 months.
What is the time we had COVID-19? Close to 6 months. Your maths is better than mine! This means we will be with COVID-19 for a while.
Now, while we have a plethora of measures, I reiterate, these are not a cure or vaccine or a guarantee that after the lock down or cessation of movement or isolation or curfew then the virus will vanish from the surface of the earth.
Alas! It will still be with us as we struggle to craft a cure or get a vaccine. Thus, if I have to be radical and transparent we need to start using our newly acquired behavior and get back to work.
All these measures had a triple philosophy of ONE, delaying the spread of COVID-19 infections, TWO, to build our immunity and THREE make us learn the new COVID-19 behaviors, what are called mitigation measures.
As a sociologist and consultant, I know we were being socialized into the new normal.
Accordingly, we have been able to successfully, to some degree, delayed infections and almost everyone has learned to wash hands, sanitize, keep social distance and wear masks.
What I doubt we haven’t achieved many of us is the immunity boost required to face the world afresh after things open up. Remember things are beginning to open up, albeit slowly, but a critical question to yourself, because we all will die alone, have you built your immunity?
More precisely, as a professor of medical sociology and consultant, I can tell you for free that health is not curative alone, cure and vaccine. But also promotion and prevention are key components for holistic care.
Apparently, most of the COVID-19 mitigation measures highlighted by those in command and giving briefs are centred on curative, no cure or vaccine and preventive, behavior change by wearing masks, washing hands, sanitizing and keeping social distance.
These measures are good but deficient of health promotion that is key to building the third philosophy of the COVID-19 mitigation measures, which is strengthening our immunity to fight the virus if we catch it.
How? I see you are wondering because you thought all was done. This happens if the response team is not holistic and cognizant of key response professions and experts during pandemics.
In the absence of a vaccine and cure, it means therefore all of us if exposed (if we will not comply with the mitigation measures) will catch COVID-19.
Whether we survive or not will depend on our immune system to fight the virus and preparedness of our health institutions to accommodate, mass COVID-19 patients and handle those with critical care needs. Charles Darwin talked of the survival for the fittest and extinction of the unfit in his theory of evolution.
The fittest are those who in the context of COVID-19 have used the stay and work at home order not as a luxury or holiday but to deal with their immunity.
How you are asking? Yes, by eating healthy: a balanced diet (diet comprised of carbohydrates, protein and vitamins, rich in nutrients and minerals, while also exercising and drinking a lot of fluids.
This component of immune booster was forgotten in the COVID-19 socialization and may cost us dearly. I advice you work on your immunity going forward as we begin our next 21 days of cessation of movement and curfew in Kenya.
Finally, those who have been successfully socialized into our new COVID-19 normal behavior and have strengthened their immunity are ready to face the challenges of catching the dreaded COVID-19.
The fact that there is no vaccine or cure on sight soon; we should stop stigmatization and discrimination of corona survivors knowing we may all catch it.
Wah! You are shocked. Yes, a new pandemic is like a rite of passage in a community:
“If you are not initiated, then you are not considered a member”.
Why then stigmatize or practice discrimination while you know you may become an initiate of COVID-19 yourself!