Thursday, 4 April 2013

Pray For Cristina




Survey shows that the growth of the culture of death in this century is unprecedented in the history of mankind. More and more people have the power to decide arbitrarily and diabolically who should live or die, who has dignity and who has none. In this century, the unborn, the physically challenged, the elderly and the sickly are endangered more than they have ever been since the beginning of the world. Yet human life remains a gift from God which does not cease to be precious even when it is physical weak and limited.
When the suffering of another is brought up, many scoff and sneer: they prefer not to hear of it, they do not want to be reminded of pain. They lack empathy with the suffering. But blessed John Paul II disagrees with this awful attitude to suffering, in his words, “Suffering does not appear as a purely negative reality, but is a visitation from God, granted in order, to give birth to works of love toward neighbour, in order to transform the whole of human civilisation into a civilisation of love. The world of human suffering opens up the way to the world of human love.”
These words of Blessed Pope John Paul II seem to be comforting to Pericas’s household. Being Christians, not only did they understand the Pope’s word, they are struggling to live it. Their 11 year old daughter, Christina is suffering from an uncommon degenerative disease with a very long scientific name (Creutzfeldt-Jakob spongiform encephalopathy) which still baffles doctor. It makes her unable to talk or move her body.
Rather than kill her, as the today’s dictators of the culture of death would dictate, her parents, true to their Christian faith, see her as a gift from God, through which they can grow in love for one another and for their neighbour.
According to doctors, Cristina’s health is going to continue degenerating until she dies. But her parents are determined to carry the inconveniences and burdens squarely on their shoulders and they have done so for 2 years now.  Their faithfulness to their child is heroic, a consolation for the world’s suffering and forsaken, and a living proof of the dignity of every human life. They are teaching the world what love of neighbour truly is. Their actions tell us that true love of neighbour demands serving others and showing compassion to the sick regardless of personal cost, a demand more generally affirmed in words than in deeds by many. As we watch this video of this young girl and her courageous family, let us pray for them and try to turn our civilization from a culture of hatred and selfishness to a culture of love.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Lady Rural Africa


Tired, sweaty and nervous, I felt a big relief when the Intern-on-call showed up in the ward. It was time to go home. I was still at her bedside; we had been there for some hours now, except for moments when we went to the blood bank to follow up on our planned blood transfusions. I picked my bag from where it had been lying for so long and headed for the door passing the foot of her bed in the process. At first I wanted to say goodbye to her since all of us – she and the doctors in our unit – had established a kind of esprit de corps following our common battle to keep her alive. Turning to her and trying to compose myself to say goodbye to a woman that was barely alive, I instead heard her ask faintly, “Doctor are you going?” I managed to mumble that she would be well taken care of by the team-on-call. She had no reason to worry. But was that what I was supposed to answer? Wouldn’t a simple “yes, it’s time for me to go, the team on call is already here,” have answered her question? Why did I feel as if she had asked, “Are you all leaving me here to suffer alone? I can’t fight this battle alone.”

It was so late in the evening that those of us going to town had to make alternative transport arrangements. The rest of the day went on as usual for me, as I imagine it went for the other doctors also. But the next day the story was different. On our arrival to the ward in the morning, we met her bed empty. Her belongings had been neatly packed in the corner and her husband was outside talking with some people whom I supposed were his relatives. He was very sober. E.A was dead. The little baby was not playing around as usual. Does he know that he’ll never see mummy again? She died in the night during another battle to control her bleeding and replace the lost blood. She was in her early twenties and was a mother of a toddler. She has become one more number in the maternal mortality statistics; just a number.

I looked at her husband, trying to catch his eyes. I wanted to show that we were there for him in this time of great trial. I don’t know if he saw me; he had an eye defect that made it difficult to know the direction he was looking at any given moment. He had lived in the hospital for weeks now. He had spent all his money and even borrowed in order to keep his young wife, the mother of his little boy, alive. He had suffered. Perhaps his greatest suffering will remain with him throughout life: the thought that he may have saved her life if he had given his consent earlier, when he was told that the surest means of saving her was by removing the womb. Would he realise that the delay in giving consent contributed in some way to her death? At this point it was not our duty to remind him. He already had enough to worry about.

Again, were the delays in procuring blood a major contributor to her untimely death? Whatever was the cause of the bleeding in the first place? Could we have found out? Anyway, whatever was the cause, it became obvious that the only way out was to remove her womb. This may sound like killing a fly with a sledge hammer but down here in this part of Africa, a sledge hammer may just be the only weapon you’ve got. And when you have it, you ought to use it well and promptly.

Some months after this incidence, while I was doing my paramilitary service in a rural area in the Western part of Nigeria, I noticed that there was a lot of funding for the Primary Health Care (PHC) programme. I had initially thought that funding for the PHC was almost non-existent. Alas, the problem wasn’t funding but corruption. Some people who are supposed to be dedicated to the delivery of health care to those who cannot afford standardized care are busy taking advantage of their privileged position to make themselves rich. These experiences – and more – have made me conclude that the most important factor that will bring about a revolution in health care in Nigeria will be an increased sense of commitment by the health workers. This will give rise to a desire to improve one’s knowledge and skills. Funding and remuneration still need to be improved but it doesn’t make sense that a man misuses what he has been entrusted with while at the same time he is shouting for more.

E.A. fits very well into my idea of the suffering African woman. She was poor, not well educated, malnourished, and sick. To make things more complicated, she was married to a man in a similar condition as herself. We see them every day in the hospitals; some of them barely hanging on to life.

Whenever we can make a difference, let us do our best to. Many peoples’ lives and future depend on the little difference we can make.

RIP E.A.

India: the land flowing with drips and IV drugs.


Working in a private hospital in Enugu, with a wide variety of cases needing medical attention, my job has exposed me to the rapidly growing medical tourism to India. Almost every week, from the wards to the clinic, there is always a person seriously wanting to travel to India for medical follow-up or someone who has come back and is continuing follow-up.

 In my opinion, some of the cases really need it because unfortunately, there is a limit to what our medical technology and expertise can provide in Nigeria. But there are still cases that just make me wonder why on earth they want to go to India. For instance, a man with a hemorrhagic stroke who has been in the ward for about 5 weeks and from all indications is doing fine. His reason? Physiotherapy. Physiotherapy in India! Well that sounds to me like going all the way to India for a photo shoot. But maybe there is a point in going to India for Physiotherapy; they may have more advanced means that will work wonders. I wish him all the best. He has the money and besides the change of environment and the thought of going abroad for medical care will be a good psychological boost. No be Igbo man again?

Another man was seriously considering sending his 8o something year old father with a chronic illness to India just to be sure he did the best for the man. He had to change his mind when he realised that they were not going to do any new thing for the man. Besides he may not be certified fit to fly.

Now this is just from one hospital. When you put together people from other places all over the country, it may give you an idea of the number of Nigerians making this once in a lifetime trip -or more than once for some- to India, the land flowing with drips and IV fluids. It now seems fewer people are going to the US and UK for reasons of cost and travel details, except for those that have family members there.

An Egyptian Hospital, Dar Al Fouad, just advertised in Thisday Newspaper. At the right bottom corner of the advert is a picture of both the Egyptian and Nigerian flags shaped in forms of the lovers’ heart, almost like it’s a valentine message. Anything to bring us over.

From all these, one thing is certain, many Nigerians are seeking medical treatment abroad. Of course many more would love to but cannot afford it. With this at the back of our minds, our generation may just be the solution that our health sector needs; people with the passion to solve existing problems and not just willing to fall in line or travel abroad ourselves and not come back. Many people are already showing us good examples. Lagos and Abuja already have thriving private Hospitals that are trying to cater for the growing need to travel abroad.

The future is really bright for the health sector in Nigeria. It takes some foresight to realise that we can solve our own problems. We don’t have to invent new things. India, China, Egypt, Brazil and others are all doing that for us. It’s just to know how to adapt them to our needs.

Finally, how I wish more of our health workers who have been abroad for donkey years will come back to contribute. I read that the House of Representative Committee on Diaspora Affairs reported that about 77% of members of the Association of Black Doctors in the United States of America were Nigerians. That's some number!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Big Brother: Big Bother


One night, when I was still in the university, I passed by the hostel lounge and noticed that it was filled to capacity. This is not unusual especially during Champion’s League or important Premiership matches, when the lounge will be overflowing with very noisy students. But this time around they were silent. I was curious and decided to check what they were watching. It was Big Brother Africa. That explained the silence; they wanted to hear the conversations of the BB housemates. This was about four years ago. Big Brother Africa has a channel dedicated to it on DSTV and has gained a lot of popularity since its first episode. Recently, Coca Cola became one of its sponsors: an indicator of the show’s fame.

I remember the first episode of Big Brother Africa on DSTV. We, being typical teenagers, were excited about this new form of reality TV show. Besides, it was happening in Africa and I think a Nigerian was participating. But when we actually started watching it, it became obvious that there was something odd about a handful of male and female unrelated adults living together in the same house. To make matters worse, almost everything they did was broadcast live to the world. They had tasks to perform but they also had free times, much of which may be spent discussing frivolous matters; and we were watching.  Sometimes, there were situations that were offensive to the normal standards of decency which for the sake of modesty I would not like to elaborate; and again we were watching.

Looking back now, I realise that the participants were - and still are - men and women who were seeking fame and fortune and were sometimes tempted to behave in ways that are below their dignity.  The road to stardom is often punctuated by these kinds of temptations. These are people some of us are still watching and I am afraid, maybe imitating.  I say ‘imitating’ because it is common for adolescents and young adults to imitate celebrities they see in movies and musicals; the disturbing trends in adolescent and early adult fashion nowadays attest to this.

Big Brother may even be more influential than the typical movies and musicals. Movies and musicals involve a lot of acting up or make believe that can be so obvious and yet so influential. Big Brother on the other hand is a reality show. It is real life. You know that they are doing whatever they are shown to be doing at that same time that you are watching them. It is unlike stage acting in that there is no script they are bound to follow. The influence of this knowledge that there is ‘no acting’ may be a powerful tool to foster imitation in the young viewer.  As the show advances, it becomes more competitive and demands a certain kind of emotional tie to one or more of the housemates; the ones you hope will win. You begin to tune-in to watch your favourite BB housemate. Other competitive reality shows like Gulder Ultimate Search and Idol West Africa may also arouse emotional ties but the shows are usually focussed on a target achieved within a limited time frame. This limits the influence on the viewer, reduces the time spent watching the show and also does not create room for housemate-initiated time fillers.

BBA, being a 24hour show, gives a lot of room for housemate-initiated time fillers. So you are left at the mercy of these fame-and-fortune-hungry youths who are constantly tempted to do anything to become more popular and so avoid eviction from the house. Even things that may be beneath their moral standards or still, beneath the moral standards we want to set for our children, who happen to be the regular viewers of the show. An excerpt from bigbrotherafrica.com brings home the kind of thing going on in BBA: “They’re getting their groove on... If they are not jumping into one of the guy’s beds at night, they’re getting all touch feely, flirty and being downright tempting in skimpy little outfits and with raunchy (sexually explicit) dance moves.” Parents, is this what you want your kids to be watching? Again the same site said, “Big Brother has enjoyed a growing popularity across the continent and M-Net is pleased that it draws support from Africans across borders and outside of the nationalities represented. This serves to highlight that Africans support other Africans regardless of where they live or what their nationality is.”  And I ask: support them in what?

The major audience of BBA are teenagers and young adults whose ideas of morality and approach to the issues of life are still being moulded. What does BBA have to offer them? BBA tells them that there is nothing wrong with co-habitation, that you can do almost anything to get ahead in your quest for fame and fortune, that you can live a fake life, that invasion of one’s privacy is part of entertainment, that the natural and sensible separation between unrelated males and females in matters of habitation is so old-fashioned, and the list goes on. No matter how much we try to run away from the fact, many of the things the entertainment industry offers are bad for our moral life. I suppose any parent interested in the well being of their children will be mindful of what they watch, including Big Brother Africa.  

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Letter to My Best Patient


N., I still remember the first day you walked into Ward 4 with madam; we had been expecting you for the prostate biopsy. It was sometime in the month of December, 2009, the 3rd month of my internship. Having not been at the clinic the day you were booked, I did not have an idea of the diagnosis. At 50 you were not a typical candidate for prostate cancer though it was a possibility. I hoped it was not going to be a cancer as I had seen in some other cases.  

I remember madam asking for an explanation of the procedure when I wanted to set your IV line. Actually she is the first patient-relative that ever asked me for such an explanation. I was a bit reluctant to answer her initially but I figured she wasn’t a typical busybody; she simply didn’t look it. Do you still remember what she said when I managed to set the line with one attempt? She said: “One catch!” That really helped to lighten the mood. 

2 weeks later I saw you in the clinic. That was the day you got the news that it was cancer. I can’t remember my reaction when you told me. But if it were today, I would probably not know what to say. You were 50 and ordinarily needed about 15 more years to be considering that kind of diagnosis. It was a rare occurrence at that age. I remember I had to accompany you and madam to the Radiology Department for your CT scan. The Urologist in charge needed to know if the cancer had spread to other organs in your body.

I must tell you now that you never for once acted like someone who had been given such a fatal diagnosis. You were still your jovial self, managing to humour some of the people we encountered at the Radiology Department. The scan result showed that the tumour had not spread. You and madam were happy, I was happy, we were all hopeful.  But then, your health situation started to decline gradually.

You were in and out of hospital admissions. Apart from the cancer, you were also battling diabetes. Madam was extremely supportive. I can imagine that you never stopped thanking God for giving you such a wife. I will not forget that Saturday morning when all your kids – 5 of them – came to visit. They were all bright and cheerful and this did not come as a surprise considering the kind of parents they had. Dr C. was so impressed he said jokingly that he wanted to marry your daughter.

Now I have to talk about the last month. You were in distress because of one of the complications of your illness. Madam was still hopeful that things wouldn’t get too bad. You had 5 young kids to take care of together.  Your father died and after the burial, your condition worsened. I recall madam complaining that for a sick man, you were rather too active during the burial. I understood the attitude of both of you – you wanted to honour your beloved father and she had to take care of her sick husband.

 I was in the last week of my internship and little did I know it was going to be your last week on earth. When I came to visit you in the private hospital where you were moved to because of the strike in the government hospitals, I noticed you were seriously deteriorating. The reason I tried to explain the origin of most of the symptoms you were experiencing was because I felt I could alleviate your suffering by helping you understand that they were inevitable.
You made us laugh during my last visit when you said that you felt like someone who had been injected with a high dose of cocaine. Again I tried to explain how this was part of the complications. I never did ask if all those explanations made any difference to you. Did they?

Two days before my departure for NYSC camp, I called so that I could tell you that I would not be able to visit the next day (Monday) because I needed to run around to get my papers ready. I was basically going to say that I would not be seeing you in a long while since the camp venue was so far away.  I never got a chance to say that. Madam told me that you had joined your father just about 3 hours earlier… I also never got the chance to tell you that Dr G.  said you were one of the best patients she ever took care of. I totally agree with her. You were informed, cooperative and cheerful despite all the pains you had to go through.
Rest in peace N.T. (1960 - July 5th, 2010)

P.S.: I try to pray for you, madam and the kids. I know it won’t be easy for them to manage affairs in your absence. 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

CRANKY OLD MAN

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in country New South Wales, Australia, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value. Later when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent poem. And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the internet.

CRANKY OLD MAN

What do you see, nurses? What do you see?
What are you thinking when you're looking at me?
A cranky old man, not very wise
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles his food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And forever is losing a sock or a shoe?

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurses. You're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still
As I do your bidding, as I eat at your will
I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother
Brothers and sisters who love one another

A young boy of sixteen with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at twenty, my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five, now I have young of my own
Who need me to guide, and a secure happy home.
A man of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me to see I don't mourn.
At fifty, once more, babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my wife is now dead.
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own.
And I think of the years and the love that I've known.

I'm now an old man and nature is cruel.
It's jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass, a young man still dwells,
And now and again, my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain
And I'm loving and living life over again.

I think of the years, all too few gone too fast
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people. Open and see
Not a cranky old man. Look closer, see me!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there too!! The best and most beautiful things of this world can't be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart.


Copied from Dr. Anselm Ogbujieze

Friday, 19 August 2011

Finding meaning in Suffering: Lessons from Dr Frankl

Dr Viktor Frankl related in his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, an incidence that can help us - or those we care for - appreciate the meaning of suffering.

He said:
“Once, the mother of a boy who had died at the age of eleven years was admitted to my clinic after a suicide attempt. [She was invited to join a therapeutic group where she told her story.] ... At the death of her boy she was left alone with another, older son, who was crippled, suffering from infantile paralysis. The poor boy had to be moved around in a chair. His mother, however, rebelled against her fate. But when she tried to commit suicide together with him, it was the crippled son who prevented her from doing so; he liked living! For him, life had remained meaningful. Why was it not so for his mother? How could her life still have a meaning? And how could we help her to become aware of it?”
Dr Frankl asked her to imagine herself at the age of eighty, on her death bed, looking back over her life.

This is what she said:
"I wished to have children and this wish has been granted to me; one boy died; the other, however, the crippled one, would have been sent to an institution if I had not taken over his care. Though he is crippled and helpless he is after all my boy. And so I have made a fuller life possible for him; I have made a better human being out of my son.’ At this moment, there was an outburst of tears and crying, she continued: ‘As for myself, I can look back peacefully on my life; for I can say my life was full of meaning, and I have tried hard to fulfil it; I have done my best-- I have done the best for my son. My life was no failure!"
Dr Frankl further commented:
“… viewing her life as if from her deathbed, she had suddenly been able to see meaning in it, a meaning which included even all of her sufferings. By the same token, however, it had become clear as well that a life of short duration, like that, for example of her dead boy, could also be so rich in joy and love, that it could contain more meaning than life lasting eighty years.”

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Nigerian Health Bill Controversy

I have not followed the debate on the new Health Bill. I was always of the opinion that we needed one anyway. Recently I ran into an article in the The Guardian Nigeria by a Consultant in UNTH, Enugu, that highlighted some controversial parts of the new bill. Below is a short excerpt:
 "It is evident that Section 51 grants unquestioned and unaccountable powers to the Minister of Health. Through his written permission, he allows whomsoever he wishes to engage in any activity such as nuclear transfer, embryo splitting for the purposes of the reproductive cloning of a human being. These are activities that are morally and socially objectionable and a cause of serious conflict and regulation in developed countries. [...]
"Once the Minister of Health gives his written permission, it becomes nearly impossible to manage the spiraling business and abuse of human embryos and similar unethical practices. It is already bad without enabling legislations; it would only be greatly worsened once they are protected by this section of the health bill."
                                                                                            ... read more from The Guardian Nigeria. 

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Dreaming of an HIV-Free Generation?


The  chief of the UNICEF  field Office ‘A’, Enugu, recently reported that different surveys conducted between 2007 to 2010 showed that a higher HIV prevalence was witnessed among people less than 25 years old and that the epidemic has constituted serious hindrances to different aspects of human development. He attributed the high prevalence rate of the disease among this group of people to their capacity to engage in unprotected high risk sexual behaviours and drug/alcohol abuse.  It is troubling to note that the infection rate is still on the increase especially among the unmarried. I think it’s about time we had a rethink on the best way to achieve the goal of an HIV-free Generation - if such a feat is achievable.



Have we not done enough to check its spread? How come with the extensive availability of condoms, the young are still being infected? There are many routes of infection but obviously, the sexual route is the chief amongst this age group. Former Harvard University researcher Prof. Edward Green who rose to prominence in the AIDS controversy with his 2003 book, Rethinking AIDS Prevention recently authored a new book titled Broken Promises: How the AIDS Establishment has Betrayed the Developing World, which chronicles the continuing battle over how to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the book, Green and others compared the prevalence of HIV among 3 different groups: those who never used condoms, those who sometimes did, and those who always did. They found no association between HIV status and consistent condom use. Those who reported using a condom with every sex act were just as likely to have HIV as those who had never used one at all. They also found that inconsistent users had the same or greater HIV prevalence as non-users (pp 223-4). This is a frightening result given the vigor with which the condom campaign is carried out. Is this research authentic? Is he just pushing an agenda?

If we should go by these findings, then the slogan: “if you no fit hold body, use a condom”, offers false hopes and should be replaced with: “you no dey kampe with condom, hold body o!” In other words, condoms don’t give total protection from the virus. Otherwise, why is there still an increase in the prevalence of the infection among those less than 25 years when for some years now the condom campaign has been very popular? Practically every drug store sells condoms and a careful investigation may reveal that it is one of the highest selling commodities in these stores. The reasons for the increasing prevalence may be more complex but surely the false hope offered by the condom campaigners is a major contributor.

Prof. Green also documented how two radically different strategies have competed for funding and support. The first, by those who say that the most effective way to fight HIV spread is by behavioural changes such as sexual abstinence or faithfulness to one’s partner. This is a risk elimination strategy as the aim is to eventually eliminate the spread the disease. The second strategy is by those who say that there is need for change of sexual behavior as long as a condom is used every time. This is a risk reduction strategy since new infections would not be eliminated, only reduced; given the known failure rate of condoms.

In spite of mounting evidence of the failure of condom programs, the AIDS establishment ridicules as anti-scientific anyone who did not support their strategy. When Pope Benedict XVI was asked about AIDS in Africa, he said that “… if Africans do not help by responsible behaviour, the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics (condoms). On the contrary, they increase it.” For this he was roundly condemned, but according to Green, “He had summarized the best current research on AIDS prevention in Africa.” Prof. Green also said that, “In fact, [condom use] might actually contribute to higher levels of infection because of the phenomenon of risk compensation, whereby people take greater sexual risks because they feel safer than they really ought to because they are using condoms at least some of the time.”

HIV has infected some forty-six million people in Africa and eighteen million have died. Green believes this could have been brought under control two decades ago, had sexual behavioural change been employed, but because it was not we are now experiencing the greatest avoidable epidemic in history. While we still wait for a cure, it is clear that behavioural change is the best bet for achieving an HIV-free generation. Abstain or be faithful to your spouse and just maybe, just maybe we will achieve the goal of an HIV-free Generation someday.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Prof Jerome talks about Conception

Some of you may already know Prof. Jerome Lejeune from my very first post. He was wildly regarded as the father of Modern Genetics. He discovered the chromosomal anomaly associated with Down syndrome and made other outstanding contributions to Modern Genetics. I ran into this video of his and thought I should share it.  

Sunday, 24 July 2011

An Adventure Wrongly Considered.



“An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.” G.K. Chesterton

Recently, the Department of Health (DoH) in the UK released the statistics of the abortions that have been performed between 2002 and 2010 on grounds of certain disabilities. This new development came 5 years after the group ProLife Alliance took the DoH to court in order to get them to release this data.

The procedure of aborting babies because of disabilities has been aptly termed ‘Eugenic Abortion’. A quick search for the word ‘Eugenics’ on Encarta Dictionaries shows that Eugenics means:
 “Selective breeding as proposed human improvement: the proposed improvement of the human species by encouraging or permitting reproduction of only those with genetic characteristics judged desirable. It has been regarded with disfavour since the Nazi period.”
Are we gradually going back to the horrible days of Hitler? Is the world sleeping while some are renewing the practices that we all vowed would never happen again, after we saw members of the human race killed because they were regarded as ‘inferior’? Didn’t those who support abortion tell us it was only for cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s health? I don’t support any of these reasons anyway; murder is murder no matter the justification.


“In total, nearly 18,000 babies were aborted between 2002 and 2010 on the grounds of suspected disability. 1,189 were killed after the upper legal gestational age limit of 24 weeks. The figures show that these include 482 killed for Down’s syndrome in 2010 alone. In the same year (2010), 181 abortions were attributed to musculoskeletal problems such as club foot, while 189 unborn children killed for anencephaly and 128 for spina bifida.”“[…] some of them (26 in the last nine years) for as minor a condition as cleft lip or palate, seven of them in 2010.”
 Babies are exterminated because they have cleft palate or lip, anencephaly, club foot, Down syndrome, and spina bifida! What on earth is our profession turning into? Are we now the hired assassins of people who cannot walk in public with a Down syndrome baby; who refuse to go through the process of correcting clubfoot or spina bifida for their kids? Yet we are the ones who swore:
“I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity; the health of my patient will be my first consideration; … I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of conception; even under threat. I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity.”
I am almost certain that if you asked any of the people involved why they are doing this, they will tell you it is to prevent a child from being born into a world where he would suffer. They are so full of ‘compassion’. Why don’t they spare the lives of such children and out of this so called compassion try to make life more comfortable for them? How can compassion justify murder? Don’t we know people who had cleft lip, clubfoot or spina bifida? Has it ever crossed our minds that they would prefer to be dead?

From the way things are going, a time may come when babies will be killed because they have inherited a gene that predisposes them to a certain cancer or because they are predisposed to suffer diabetes. At that stage, health workers would have been transformed from healers to terminators. Talk about not using our medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity.

G.K. Chesterton said that “an inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.” I agree with him on this since many times we label as inconvenient any problem we don’t feel like coping with. We abandon the adventures that life presents. We don’t want the least inconvenience or suffering so we go for the quick fix; we cut off the itching finger instead of treating it. The irony is that we lose more by cutting off than by treating.

If scientists and medics in the past adopted the quick fix method, then I wonder what would have become of us today. If diabetic, cancer, heart disease and sickle cell patients were killed, there would certainly be no insulin, no radiotherapy or chemotherapy, no pacemakers or other modern modalities of treatment because we would not have bothered to develop these means; there wouldn’t have been any need for them at all. It just occurred to me that sicklers-yet-to-be-born may face a similar fate if this trend spreads down to Nigeria. This is not a comfortable prospect at all.

Right from the beginning of humanity, we have always tried to discover new ways of solving our problems; an adventure that will last till the end of humanity. It has taken time and effort but we have made amazing progress.  In the world of medicine, the story has been the same. The discoveries of antibiotics, vaccines, artificial hormones, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, anaesthesia, surgical techniques, tumour makers, etc, have proved man’s capacity to improve life in many ways that don’t go against the ethics of the profession or the laws of humanity.

Unfortunately, man has also used his ingenuity to produce means of destruction like the nuclear weapons that all of us are still so scared of. I believe abortion is also an instrument of mass destruction. An instrument that if not stopped will destroy not only humans- about 40 million have been killed through abortion in the US alone since the 1970’s –but also will destroy that sense of adventure required for us to improve the lot of our fellow humans. Treatment is available for spina bifida, clubfoot, cleft lip, etc. The outcome may not be perfect but what on earth is? We have to find ways of treating genetic anomalies and not eliminating those who have them.

As I said in my last post, abortion is illegal in Nigeria but this doesn’t mean it is not being practiced. The statistic is not available because it has not been sought. One day ‘they’ will come again to pressure us to make it legal – in the name of human rights. Well, the truth is that it is not really about rights as no right is above the right to life; but it seems to be about convenience, eugenics and money as we are beginning to see. 

I will leave you with the words of a director of an abortion clinic in the US; words she said to one of her staff who was re-thinking her role in the whole business: “What we do here is end a life. Pure and simple. There is no disputing this fact. You need to be OK with this to work here.”

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

4th Trimester Abortion.

Pregnancy usually lasts 9 months and based on this fact, it has been traditionally divided into three trimesters, each comprising of 3 months. Trimester comes from Latin Trimestris meaning “of three months”. It is also used by some Universities if their academic year is divided into three parts.

Abortion has been legalised in many countries, with each country vaguely or clearly defining when (time and circumstance) it is permissible to procure abortions. Initially it was only permitted in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in danger. Gradually the trend started changing; people began asking for abortion for any ‘unwanted’ pregnancies – abortion on demand. ‘Unwanted’ is a broad term can mean a teenage pregnancy, a case of a baby with some disability or even a case of a baby with an unwanted gender. There are also cases of women who think they’ve had enough children.

 They say: “Another one of these is not invited!” Or maybe I should put it more humanely: “So sorry baby but it seems we don’t have enough room for you in our home, finances and hearts.”
Reminds me of the sad case of the Titanic where many died because the life-boats were not filled to capacity.

Again the stage of pregnancy in which a woman can procure abortions has also gradually been adjusted. In some countries it is possible to terminate a pregnancy at 9 months. In essence you can kill your baby anytime before the onset of labour. So if after buying your baby clothes and play-things you suddenly think you don’t want him/her anymore, well it’s your ‘choice’; you go ahead and dispatch ‘it’. It’s your choice, isn’t it? Nobody will arrest you for murder; the laws of the State protect you. And as for your conscience, it had better mind its own business, which funnily happens to be you.

If pregnancies usually last 9 months or less, why the 4th Trimester? Can they stay for three more months? Well, it would be extraordinary for that to happen. By 4th T.A., I am referring to the act of allowing babies who survive abortions to die. Since there are cases of babies who come out of abortions alive, following the same reasoning that they are not worth being alive in the first place, they are left to die. So for the people who practice this, the argument for abortion is not really that the child in the womb is not a human being yet, but simply that he/she is not wanted. If you cannot kill it in the womb, then let it die outside.

“Oops! The product of conception (baby) is still animate (alive). Well, take it to the service room (trash can). It would probably have passed on when the men (trash collectors) come tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, I have to freshen-up. All this work is killing me.”

I ran into this concept of 4th T.A. (Infanticide), when I read an interview with Jill Stanek, a registered nurse in the US, who discovered a baby of about 22 weeks that was left to die in a dirty utility room after an induced-labour abortion. The baby had Down syndrome. She held the baby in her hands and rocked him so he would not die unloved. She couldn’t have saved his life because he was forced out of the womb when it was impossible to keep him alive outside. She eventually started a protest that led to the signing of the ‘Born-Alive Infants Protection Act’ by President George Bush protecting babies who had come out of an abortion alive.

The fact that humans can be as inhuman as to allow the barbaric practice of abortion and then infanticide should make us ask: What on earth is this abortion all about? Where is this leading us? If you’re pro-choice (pro-abortion): What the h*** am I supporting? I am of the opinion that the problem started when contraceptives (contra-conceptives) came into the scene. When man decided to determine who comes into the world that he did not make; when man decided to play God.

They tell women: “Use a pill (contraceptives) to prevent pregnancy. It’ll prevent fertilization. If that doesn’t work, it will make the womb uninhabitable for the blob of tissue (offspring) so it’ll have to pack. If that still doesn’t work, you can go to a doctor to remove the blob of tissue (offspring). These things happen, you know. Oh! And if it (the baby) comes out alive, then just let it pass on (die). You never wanted it in the first place, did you?”

The argument that the foetus (human offspring) is not really human must have reigned supreme until the advancements in medical care, making it possible for babies born at about 24 weeks (6 months) to survive. Again, ultrasound scans have been able to give us a good view of life in the womb (Temple in Japanese). With all these new developments, abortion promoters are looking for other ways to justify this evil. They raise the issue of women’s rights hiding under the fact that women are being marginalised. Is turning the person who is supposed to mother into the one who will murder, the way of solving the problem of marginalization? Is that a woman’s way of asserting her power?

Fortunately, some modern Geneticists have offered the opinion that life from conception is a continuum that if not interrupted will end in natural death at old age.  Those of us who have been through medical school will agree with this fact.

Abortion is still illegal in Nigeria. There were few attempts in recent times to legalise it under the guise of ‘Reproductive Health Bill’. Thank God the truth was revealed before it could go far. Recently I read that the UNFPA is going to invest about 6.6 billion Naira in Nigeria for the next 5 years in order to promote Maternal Health and Reproductive Health. I guess we have to expect another tsunami of pressures to legalise abortion in Nigeria. For the abortion promoters, here is an opportunity to sell your conscience and chop money. For those who promote human life and dignity, here is your chance to do more for humanity; to change hearts about abortion and make it unthinkable. For those who are indifferent, here is your chance to re-think your position because sooner or later, you will have to make a decision.    





Sunday, 17 July 2011

The best things in life are free

This is an attempt to outline 6 of SOME of the best things in life. There are many others for sure, but I limit myself to these. They cost almost nothing but yet are so enriching.

1. Silence:
The i-series (ipods et al), B-series (BB et al), laptops, televisions, phones, etc, have almost drowned silence. Control them and you will gain silence. We need inner and outer silence to pray well, read well, and appreciate people and the beauty of nature surrounding us. We need silence for self introspection and examination of conscience that is fast becoming vital for the survival of the human person. “God is the friend of silence. Trees, flowers, grass grow in silence. See the stars, moon and sun, how they move in silence,” says Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Silence is golden. It is the door keeper of the life within.

2. Reading:
"In 29yrs of College teaching, I have seen reading ability go steadily down. A paper I would give a C to today, I would have given an F to 25yrs ago," comments Prof. Peter Kreeft. Good books, not just academic materials abound around us. Good enough, there are audios and e-copies of these books. Use them to broaden your horizon; to understand cultures, history and the mystery of the being called man. Related to writing, mind that you don't fall for the habit of 'text language'. A friend recently suggested that the literary masters of old would be disappointed to see beautiful words replaced with unnecessary abbreviations.

3. Music:
Music is a great force for good or evil. It is convertible, christianizable & baptizable. The two universal languages on earth are music and silence. Choose what to listen to & very importantly when to listen to them.

4. Conversation:
Real conversation is fast becoming a lost art. When last did you have a really thoughtful, honest conversation about anything that was important to any of the conversants? Conversation doesn't cost a kobo. We have to be particularly careful not to allow modern technology to destroy the wonderful act of conversation. If you know how bad it feels to see a ‘friend’ pinging on his Blackberry while at the same time trying to converse with you, you’ll know better not to do the same to someone else.

5. Sleep:
Don't act surprised! Optimum sleep is good for long-term memory, the immune system, reducing irritability and improving confidence. Did you know that Albert Einstein sometimes used to sleep for up to 8 hours, even 10hours? He said it was good for the kind of intellectual work he had to do. He would sometimes gain deep insights into his works after such sleep. Ever wondered why some people never do ‘TDB’ and still come out tops? Best to get 6 to 8hrs of uninterrupted sleep each day at a stretch and better in a noise free area.

6. Prayer:
Prayer is touching the human wire to the divine dynamo. It fires you up. There have been thousands of pages of advice about it. Instead of repeating any of them, I want to say just 2 little words..., DO IT! 

Credits to Prof. Peter Kreeft, whose book ‘Making Choices’ inspired this write-up.


Thursday, 30 June 2011

Some of my favorite Viktor Frankl quotes


I share some of my collections of Viktor Frankl quotes. Below each is a short commentary that I have made.
"An incurably psychotic individual may lose his usefulness but yet retain the dignity of a human being. This is my psychiatric credo. Without it I should not think it worthwhile to be a psychiatrist. For whose sake? Just for the sake of the damaged brain machine which cannot be repaired?"

All patients retain the dignity of the human person no matter how ill or ‘useless’ they may seem to be. The first duty of health workers is ‘primum non nocere’ meaning ‘first, do no harm’; we try to repair what has been damaged by disease. When we can no longer reverse the devastation by disease, our duty is to improve quality of life. The primary reason to improve quality of life is because we still perceive the dignity of the PERSON we are dealing with, not because their family can afford the cost or because it is the easier thing to do. Clearly it is not the easier option since taking care of special patients like the terminally ill can be very challenging.
The genetically or physically challenged also fall into this category.  Apart from the medical care we render these special people, it would be helpful to boost their self confidence and also to encourage their care-givers who go through a lot of troubles to take care of them.

"What [man] becomes - within the limits of endowment and environment - he had made out of himself. In the concentration Camps ... some behaved like swine while others behaved like saints... which one is actualised depends on the decisions but not on conditions."
The work load for a health worker can be very demanding at times. Sometimes one can be strained to the point that work is done with a sense of automation, without feelings.  Be that as it may, we still retain the capacity to make the best of every situation no matter how stretched we are. The chances of making mistakes will increase for sure and this is one of the reasons we have to continue asking for better work arrangements but we shouldn’t entirely blame the condition. There are instances of unwarranted mistakes even in the mildest of working conditions.

"Man is that being who has invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who has entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord's Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips."
At this point my thoughts and prayers go to the many people who were exterminated in the gas chambers during WWII, because they were from another race, held another belief  or because  they were regarded to be of little use to society (the mentally and physically challenged). Every right thinking person condemned and still condemns these crimes as one of the worst in the history of humanity.
But what worries me is that presently, about 90% of babies diagnosed with down syndrome in certain European countries are terminated. Prof. Jerome Lejeune described it as ‘chromosomal racism’ and I wonder how it is different from what Adolf Hitler did. In one, it was a state decision, in the other it is a private decision; but in both, the aim is the same - to deprive our fellow humans the life they already have lest they be a source of inconvenience to us. 
I guess one day we would hear of a mother who kills her youngling because he cries too much in the night. If we can justify chromosomal racism, then with a little stretch of the same reasoning, we can as well justify infanticide or at least the killing of genetically challenged children. There is actually a case of a man in an Eastern European country who killed his brain-damaged baby after he was told that the baby would grow up more or less like a vegetable. Guess what, he was acquitted by the court.

"Suffering ceases to be suffering in some way at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of sacrifice."
"[Man] changing his attitude towards his unalterable fate ... he could see a meaning in his suffering."
For those who stammer (stutter): "Before you start reading, tell yourself, 'I don't care if I stutter. Let them see how bad I stutter.'                                                                     You actually stutter if you have the intention of reading or talking well."

Viktor Frankl (1905-1997), Austrian psychiatrist who developed a form of existential psychotherapy known as logotherapy. Logotherapy is based on Frankl’s theory that the underlying need of human existence is to find meaning in life (logos is a Greek word for “meaning”).

Viktor Emil Frankl was born in Vienna, Austria, and educated at the University of Vienna, where he earned a medical degree in 1930. In 1942 Frankl and his family, who were Jewish, were arrested by the Nazis and imprisoned in concentration camps. Frankl’s mother, father, brother, and pregnant wife were all killed in the camps. Frankl spent the next three years at Auschwitz, Dachau, and other concentration camps. During his imprisonment, Frankl helped despairing prisoners maintain their psychological health. He also recorded, on stolen bits of paper, his theories and experiences, which he later made use of in his books. After his release, Frankl returned to Vienna and became professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna Medical School, a position he retained for the rest of his career.

In his best-known book, Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy (1962; translated into English, 1970), Frankl described how he and other prisoners in the concentration camps found meaning in their lives and summoned the will to survive. The remainder of the book outlines the theory and practice of logotherapy. In addition to its influence on the field of psychotherapy, Man’s Search for Meaning found an enormous readership among the general public. By the time of Frankl’s death, it had sold more than 10 million copies in 24 languages. Frankl published 31 other books on his psychological theories.

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