By Chris Ezeh
Intercultural Health Consultant – BG Klinikum Hamburg Germany, Publisher EuroAfrica Magazine, Direktor EuroAfrica Media Network
The year 2019/2020 will always be reckoned with in the annals of history as two years of incomparable presence. 2019 ended, and 2020 began with a novel virus, COVID-19. Coronavirus 2019, has become a health nightmare for all countries. This pandemic has profoundly impacted our mass media and our social life to such a height that certain drastic decisions affecting the smooth functioning of our society, mainly the economy were born overnight. Reduced production in industries worldwide resulted in a massive drop in Earth pollution. International conferences, summits and events which brought thousands of individuals from different countries were cancelled or replaced with virtual meetings within days.
Covid19 is great against CO2 emission and the whole wave of environmental destruction associated with holidays and professional conference-tourism. The Venetians in Italy are discovering peace and tranquility for the first time in centuries! Venice, in the distant past a lovely town of canals, but converted in recent decades into a pathetic unpleasant attraction park with mass tourism of cruise ships; 20-30 million visits per year, is now deathly silent. We know this also spells doom for airline companies, travel agencies, hotels and catering services, or for the economy etc. But when we pause; It´s great news for ecologists and anti-mass tourism campaigners! This an excellent relief for our climate. For years we have had conferences after conferences and economic interests have always had the upper hand, and the result has always been “no solution, and we were damned to a disaster unless a miracle happens”. Suddenly, to the surprise of economic and political experts, the solution is wagging in front of our eyes: A virus. As in H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, a microscopic Earth lifeform has finally proved to reverse the victory in what has so far been a losing war to reduce the excesses of a crazy, self-destructive world.
Some months ago, it would be tantamount to sacrilege to imagine banning conferences or hugely reducing their numbers. People would think you are gone bananas on the thought of such a scheme which nobody would take seriously. In favour of the health of our planet, neither Greenpeace, Greta Thunberg, nor any other individual or collective organization have achieved so much, in such a short time. Never has our Earth owed so much to so little and invisible virus. A miracle has happened, and suddenly, all the excuses to avoid a reduction of pollution has proved to be spurious. Within months, worldwide we have seen how it is indeed possible to close museums, shut down whole towns, including such top touristic destinations as Venice, reduce the number of flights, and cancel many of the most important conferences and summits.
Other Great Lessons from Covid19
We, in the health sector, are now seeing daily, new angles to this pandemic: All health, para-health, virologists or pandemic experts cannot claim to possess a monopoly-license for every knowledge or even the best approach to this pandemic. If that is so, the “Chinese Virus” would not have brought us where we are today. There are a few things which make sense and do not require a professor to tell you to apply them to protect yourself and your family.
The Mask Fallacy
Today the truth is for fear of having fewer masks for health workers, many experts in many countries initially, were very reluctant to encourage people to wear masks, and it was all about our hands only. Right now we know masks can be “self-made” and they can equally be very effective if used correctly.
African Health Workers in Africa
Some years back it used to be normal scene seeing many health workers going to or returning from work in their duty uniforms in public transports etc. Please your clinic protective clothing and other wears which have contact to patients should be left and be washed in the hospital. These items include shoes, stockings, writing materials like pens etc. Under no account should you go out of the clinic premises without changing your clothes or leaving such items behind. If possible always take a shower before going home. Please always think of your loved ones and a lot of other people your precautions might protect.
Ventilators and Covid19
Today many experts also know that ventilators are not the “solve it all solution” It is still important to have them. Nevertheless, their success is highly dependent on the timing of putting the ventilators into operation. So this differentiation must be evident.
Parties, Crowds and Smoking
Is it dangerous to sit beside a smoker? Yes, it is very dangerous. Today we know that big body-to-body contacts/gathering as can be seen in stadiums, parties, discos, bars etc. in combination with smoking poses a significant danger of infection via the exchange of “inhalation/exhalation gases in a closed space. We have a clear demonstration of this phenomenon in Ischgl (a snow-party-town in Austria where thousands of infected ski tourists took the coronavirus home with them. Austria thus became an international virus exporter – especially to Germany and the rest of Europe). If you smoke, it´s possible that your lungs are already damaged and if you have added-health risk factors, you, belong to “high-Risk Groups.”
Temperature, Tropical and Temperate Climate
Today it is becoming gradually clear that high temperatures and sunlight have somehow adverse effects on Covid19. However, this must be considered in line with other factors like Vitamin D etc. as explained below.
The Indispensable D-Hormone
For all Africans I can confidently tell you this on Covid19 preventive measures:
Many blacks or dark-skinned people living in temperate Europe and North America are really in danger and face a unique health problem. Many are dying from coronavirus infection not only because of poverty and inadequate health information but most importantly, because of Poor Immune System Response or Poor Immune Resilience. This can result from living and working conditions, poor health, poor nutrition, poor lifestyle and fitness habits or environmental adaptation factors. On the top list of what our immune system needs to function at its peak, is vitamin D. In fact, as all medical specialists today know, this is not a vitamin but an essential hormone. All crucial functions of our body are linked to Vitamin D. We are therefore talking about an indispensable D-Hormone.
The points below apply to Europeans under certain conditions too.
If you have African ancestry and you work all day in the office, spend fewer hours outside, you live perhaps in a cold climate zone with less sunshine, (living (e.g. in Northern Hemisphere), i.e. Europe and North America,) please ensure you get tested for your Vitamin D and vitamin C status. Ensure you work with your physician and take the prescribed doses for your health. Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions should consult more regularly with their health care provider for additional steps to protect yourself.
The point which needs to be clear here is that our dark skin is a BIG disadvantage once we leave the Equator. As a result of the heavy melanin in our skin, this works against us in our body´s vitamin D production process. Consequently, if you live in the zones named above, or stay indoors always without enough sunshine, or for days as a result of illness you are bedridden at home or in a hospital even in hot Africa, you might suffer vitamin D deficiency and your immune defence system will switch to “step down transformer mode”. Once this happens in your body, you are now an easy victim to all virus and bacterial infections. Please, this aspect is so important that we must all keep informing everyone to increase health awareness.