By Prof. Waswa Balunywa, PhD
In Part III, we discussed the first solution to manage Coronavirus pandemic in Uganda. In this part, we continue with the solutions. The second solution is Enforcing the Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs). From the awareness campaign, there should be a request to ensure that SOPs are observed. Knowing that this time the Virus is more dangerous than before, some people are enforcing the SOPs on their own. There are, of course, some few people who have not, but I believe that those who are aware, who have lost people, who have people in their homes fighting the Virus, are definitely observing SOPs.
In terms of enforcing them, which I believe has been taking place, nobody should enter any public place without the mask. Nobody should enter without sanitizing. Sanitizing is expensive, but washing hands with soap as was done earlier, maybe is the cheapest way to achieve this. These should be enforced. The security system and the local leaders should be able to ensure that in places which are public, these are observed. SOPs are not controversial like the vaccine and should be emphasized, but since the Virus cannot be seen, SOPs are not 100 percent effective. Besides, for how long can we go on with this abnormality.
The Ministry of Health did a good job producing awareness materials. Social media also played a big role. But like anything else, some criticism has been levelled against masks. Social media has quacks who have come up to dispute face masks, how they are unhealthy, among other criticism. But on average masks have been supported as one of the methods of preventing transmission of the Coronavirus infection. Many Ugandans who found masks uncomfortable would have them around their necks! A weakness has been during burial ceremonies, especially in rural areas. It has been difficult to enforce social distancing. People who have to buy food or supply food and those that live hand to mouth as we call them, should be allowed to go about their work. Government can not afford to buy and distribute food. People should be allowed to go to work but enforce the SOPs.
The third solution is the homemade concoctions. There is a lot being written about the homemade solutions to the Virus. Steaming, of course, using local herbs, using a variety of other local medicines are being recommended. Uganda is very lucky in the sense that most of it is rural, and people have access to all kinds of trees and plants, eucalyptus, mango, orange, guava tree leaves, outside my compound, all of which are being used to steam. Even a recently found plant, Vervain, is in use. I have a lot of this in my forest, and everybody is looking for it and taking it, drinking it, steaming it. But what doze! Unfortunately, no scientific experiment has been done about these plants, but they work!
Ugandans have ‘Kajanja’. A lady, one Nanyonga said she had a cure for HIV/AIDs. Thousands of Ugandans including scientists flocked to Masaka to collect the soil from her. She claimed that she had been instructed by God to cure all illness with soil from here Shamba. For weeks all roads led to Sembabule in Masaka district to pick the magic ‘fake’ cure. It is reported that she dished out over 30 tonnes of soil. The Editor of the Weekly Topic, then a Leading Weekly in the country, said. “The whole thing reeks with forgery and deception, but it was a result of the growing desperation among AIDs victims as a cure eluded even the world’s top scientists.” Nanyonga was a simple peasant farmer. This was 1989. Thank God nobody has come up yet to claim to cure the Coronavirus.
It is possible that Uganda’s solution to this Virus lies in these homemade solutions. People have said they have been testing sick, they have gone home, used these, and they are reporting to be better. I think this is where God’s hand has played an important role. If we were to wait for hospitals, Ugandans would be dying every day by the thousands. What does this tell us?
However, there are many contradicting statements about the usage of not only homemade but even scientifically produced drugs. You wonder what to believe and what not to believe. As an academician, I used to wonder why if the usage of a drug was not confirmed in the British Journal of Medical Sciences or a similar prestigious journal, it could not be accepted! Now I know why. I have now come to learn why. They are so many solutions by very many scientists and non-scientists who have not researched into them. Even non-researchers prescribe solutions. They are prescribed by those who have not used them and established how they work. If you fall sick in Uganda, everybody you meet will give you advice and a prescription!(“Kajanja and Lugezigezi just”) .
Research enables us to be able to generalize after different experiments have been conducted. That is why Dr Ssali’s HIV drug was never accepted because it had never universally been published in the British Journal of Medical Sciences or other journals of good ranking! Makes sense. Much as it worked in the local conditions, it could not be adapted internationally. It is said, I cannot confirm, but subsequently, this drug is what was produced by the big pharmaceutical companies to be able to treat HIV AIDS.
Social media is full of contradictions about steaming. Some argue for its usage; others are against it! Ordinary souls get confused especially when some ‘Doctors” come against something. Nothing works out 100 percent, but Ugandans need the Ministry of Health to pronounce itself on these contradicting issues. Some of the information circulating around includes:
One Medical Doctor pursuing a Masters degree at Makerere University has arguments that appear to go against steaming: –
• Steaming especially in groups may increase the risk of exposure to the infection
• In some covid patients, as a result of immune system (cytokine Strom), there is markedly increased secretion of mucus especially in the air sacs and the airways which can result in mucus plug formation. Whether steaming alone can resolve this is unlikely.
• There is no specific evidence to suggest that steam inhalation will enhance recovery from covid or prevent disease progression
• Steaming may cause harm. It ought to be done carefully.
Another person says, “You are hopefully drinking hot water and thinking that this is good for your throat. But Coronavirus is hidden behind the paranasal sinus of your nose for the first two days initially. The hot water we drink does not reach there. After a couple of days, the Virus behind the paranasal sinus of your nose reaches the throat and lungs. Then you will start coughing, and then you will start having breathing issues. That is why it is very important for us to take steam because the steam reaches behind the paranasal sinus of our nose. You have to kill this Virus in the nose with the steam.” Another says, “Are You Steaming Daily? As per the study, at 40°C, the Virus becomes disabled. At 60°C, the Virus becomes so weak, and any human immune system can fight against it. At 70°C, the Virus dies completely. Everyone in the health industry definitely knows that the steam works at 60°C to 70°C, and they are following it. But they are not preaching as much as they should. I would say we should put emphasis on steaming and at the same time use our immunity builders. Another says, “During this Pandemic, China, Japan, Taiwan among other countries have actually controlled the Coronavirus by steaming. They promoted it a lot and are able to control the Virus. Experts say that using Eucalyptus oil while steaming really works.” From Champion Group “We have given out a couple of thousand steamers and hot water kettles for our champions. Now it is your responsibility to use them daily and regularly. This definitely will help everyone in building immunity to fight against the viruses.”
From Head of Infectious Diseases Clinic, University of Maryland, USA says: (Edited)
• We may have to live with C19 for months or years. Don’t deny or panic. Don’t make your life a misery. Let’s learn to live with this reality.
• You can’t destroy the C19 Virus that has penetrated the cell walls by drinking litres of hot water – you’ll just be going to the bathroom more often.
• Washing your hands and maintaining a physical distance is your best method of protection.
• If you do not have a C19 patient at home, there is no need to disinfect your home.
• The C19 Virus does not fly through the air. This is a respiratory drop infection that requires close contact.
• The air is clean, you can walk to parks and public places (just keep your physical distance for protection)
• Just use regular soap against C19, no need for anti-bacterial soap. These are viruses, not bacteria.
• You can’t be protected from viruses by consuming vinegar, sugarcane juice and ginger! It’s just for immunity, not medicine.
• The immune system gets very weak by always living in a sterile environment. Even if we are taking immune-boosting supplements/medicines, please regularly leave your house to the park/beach or anywhere else.
Immunity is increased by Exposure to Pathogens, not by sitting at home and consuming fried/spicy/sweet foods & fizzy drinks. Original article:- https://theazb.com/we-will-live-with-covid19-for-months-lets-not-deny-it-o nor-panic- dr-faheem-younus / .
There you are. As an ordinary non-scientific Ugandan, you may get confused but what I get is that steaming will kill the Virus if it has not gone into the lungs! After that, steam is useless. There is not much controversy about herbs and diet. It has generally been agreed that ginger, garlic and lemon with some honey boosts immunity. A weak immune system is susceptible to the virus victory in the body. This has been popular except for people with Ulcers. Oranges that supply Vitamin C are also popular, though they appear to have gone off the market.
“Mululuza” a Local herb that is used against malaria. The Western cure for malaria was Chloroquine. This was discontinued sometime back in Uganda and replaced with some expensive drugs! But the idea is a drug known as hydroxychloroquine. This is similar to “Mululuza”. It was used to cure malaria, Lupus and arthritis. It is said to reduce fever and also inhibit the Virus that causes COVID-19. A study in Oxford University found the drug not effective in treating patients! Other studies are reported to have proved to the contrary, while some say it is effective to prevent, not to cure. American President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Bolsonaro used to it! “Mululuza” has been taken by many people, and while there are no studies (Universities where are you? Governments give us the money and direction), it is thought to be a good drug preventing infection. There are various drugs available on the market. What is emerging now is that hundreds who can afford testing have tested positive but report being better after a couple of weeks. Steaming, the garlic concoction, Vitamins are said to be the source of the cure.
The President of Uganda National Medical Association, Dr Richard Idro, was on local television NBS, and in the news broadcast, he was quoted.
“Since the second outbreak of COVID-19, people have been purchasing drugs common in Uganda. They are said to have been a treatment for COVID-19. Doctors under their umbrella – Uganda National Medical Association (UNMA) led by President Richard Idro have raised the red flag warning of the side effects from drugs used to treat COVID-19.
Hot steam in the child may end up burning the respiratory airway, damaging so much so that the child may be exposed to other infections. This leads the way for infections to enter. To many of the children, fruit juices are enough.
Doctors have advised the public to stop using drugs that are published on social media. They further said that these have harmed peoples’ lives. Medications like Vitamin C, Dexaton, azithromycin are all antibiotics. Dr. Idro has appealed to the public to stop using them. Some are so dangerous.
The public has been advised to use more fruit juice like mangoes, oranges, avocado and foods rich in carbohydrates, whether infected with COVID-19 or not. Doctors have encouraged the public to continue eating a balanced diet and to eat three meals a day, including fruits and fruit juices. Fruits that contain vitamin C is important for healing the respiratory system.
According to doctors, 80% of people who test positive do not have signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Therefore, Ugandans are asked to stay home and avoid unnecessary movements that could lead them to be infected, yet the hospitals are out of beds to admit them. Stay home unless you have a very good reason for you to leave home.” (From NBS Newsroom by Hajarah. Nalugwa and Esther Namutamba) .
…………To be continued in Part V…….