Friday, 10 July 2015

Why challenges of life are meant to make us stronger. (Part Two)

In continuation of the blog of how our challenges in life can bring out the best in us, I am writing about another HIV-positive human rights activist Maxensia Nakibuuka who is from Uganda. She talked about her experience after she lost her husband to AIDS in 1999. How she lost her job because of his death and the other attendant consequences of the stigmatization that followed. According to her she was down, sickly with no hope of bringing up her children. However with the help of a caring Christian community with support from the Global fund and the US Pepfar fund, she and her family were offered treatment, support and counseling from religious leaders.
In appreciation for all what was done for her she devoted herself to become part of the activism to end HIV and offered her own premises to be used as a clinic that offers treatment, mobilizes women, men and youth to do care-given from house to house, follow up patients who are on treatment, advise on nutrition, and other support services.
The point of this story is that she used her challenges in life to empower others. If she had not passed through that challenge of HIV, she will never know the power in her that is capable of doing what she did.
The last person I will mention is Crystal Chigbu, the brain behind Irede foundation in Nigeria. She founded it after the harrowing experience of seeing her little daughter lose her limb after suffering from a missing kneecap at birth with consequent amputation because of the infection of the limb. After that the daughter started using artificial limbs and it was what she as a mother passed through that made her to vow to provide solution to children in similar situation.
In order to help children in similar situation with an artificial limb which cost a lot of money, she has to source for fund from friends, kind hearted people from all over the world who go out of their way to give their widow's mite to see children fulfilling their dreams in life.
Since she started the foundation, she has been able to help a lot of children acquire artificial limb, the mobility they experience being a source of joy for them.
These two women just like the others I mentioned before turned their challenges into solution and a means of helping others instead of focusing alone on their loss and pain.
Once again the question is what is your loss? What is the pain you had passed through? Are you going to let the lesson learned to go with you when you die. Can you make the world a better place by empowering others to face their challenges with strength with your own story? Women like Oprah Winfrey, empowers others with their life story. Others shares their story on twitter like Kimhill csa Survivor @mystorykh83 and Angela @TherapyAfterCSA of being childhood abuse survivors and how they are both trying to heal as well as help others overcome similar past.
The important thing is to try our best to give to others after all one of the holy books says there is more happiness in giving than in receiving. What experience will you like to share with others? It will be appreciated if you share your story of survival for the benefit of mankind.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Why challenges of life are meant to make us stronger. (Part One)

Many of us as humans don’t want to face much problem in life. This is true because it is normal to prefer enjoying life rather than to experience life’s pain. However, no matter our wishes, things we do not expect do happen to us. Time and unexpected events must face us. The issue now is how we are going to handle them. Some takes the challenges they face in life to build a better version of themselves. Some even turn those adversities into things that make them to become well known and even took them to places and people they never dreamt of. No matter what we might have faced in life, if we look closely there is something in there for us to learn from. If we look close enough, there are endless possibilities that can still go along with it. Some, from the challenges they faced in life wrote books that became bestsellers. Some turn their adversities into creating something for the betterment of the world around them. They set up nonprofit organization. They set up charities to help others not to fall victims of what they passed through. 

I will share two experiences of two people that I know found out that they were HIV positive here in Nigeria who turned it into something positive and for the benefit of others. At a time when the stigma was very high and most HIV positives people hide themselves because of the social stigma; the two of them came out to say they were HIV positives. They went on public and became active public campaigners that were interviewed at conferences and seminars.

This people who were nobody when they did not have the disease became known in the world only after they see the positives in their situations rather than focusing on the negatives. Many world renowned inventors spoke about how many times they fail before they were able to get it right. They did not dwell on their failures but rather they focused on what they have got to do to get what they want.

The first among this people is Abigail Obetan who came into the limelight in 2002 after featuring on Newsline, the popular feature package presented as part of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Network News. Abigail who was then a counsellor with the Lagos State Agency for the control of AIDS (LSACA), featured on the programme to enlighten the Nigerian populace about living with HIV and the need to stop the stigmatization and Discrimination of people living with HIV.

Having been on the receiving end of the widespread epidemic of HIV related Stigma and discrimination from family and close friends, Abigail courageous used the media platform to convey the need to accept and relate with people living with HIV with dignity. Her coming out exposed her to a lot of discrimination from family and friends and even led to her daughter who is also HIV positive being rejected from the school she was attending because she came out on the publicly about her HIV status. Despite losing her daughter some few weeks after that incident, she moved on believing she has a mission to act on behalf of those living with this disease that cannot come out. She bore her pain, trauma and rejection stoically as she struggled to survive against all odds. She believed that HIV was not a stumbling block. She drew strength from her faith in God, believing rather that a better definition of HIV was ‘He Intends Victory’ a term she adopted from the name of a faith based non-governmental organization in the United States which provides spiritual and psychosocial support to people living with HIV.

For her courage and determination in the face of those challenging times, Abigail was honored with the “Heroes Award for Stigma Fighters at the 2003 edition of the Red Ribbon Awards, an event instituted by Journalists against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria to recognize outstanding media and community contributions to the HIV/AIDS response in Nigeria. Though she died in 2011 from drug resistant strain of Tuberculosis, she is those that inspired the words “it is not how long we lived but how well and how much we impart the world.”

The other person is Pat Matemilola, a medical doctor who was the coordinator of network of people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEWPHAN) for so many years. I met him at a workshop organized by World Bank/NACA for training community base organizations on project management. I was humbled by his willingness to talk about his HIV status at a time when people are very secretive about their status. He was willing to share his experiences with others but more importantly willing to work with organizations that will help to reduce the spread and stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS.

This two people that I mentioned turned their challenges in life into positives that they used to help others and in a larger way the world.

Whatever might be the challenges you might be facing instead of sitting down and crying over the past why don’t you think of what you can do to turn your experience in life for the betterment of humanity. You can set up a nonprofit organization, you can write a book. You can set up a blog to share your experience with the world. Whatever it is sit right up and think of moving the world forward just as this quote whose origin is unknown states “Excellence is the result of caring more than others think wise, risking more than others thinks safe, dreaming more than others think practical, and expecting more than others think possible”. So do you have challenges you are coping with? Will you like to share with others how you were able to cope and survive it? Your opinion will be highly appreciated.


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Ebola disease and the international response.

Ebola and the international response.
History revealed that the first recorded case of Ebola outbreak was in Congo DR in 1976 and since that time there had been recorded cases in other parts of Africa like Sudan, Uganda, Gabon devastating families and communities. However those outbreaks have always been limited to isolated villages and communities and never spreading to major cities and towns with a larger populace. This majorly l believe  has been contributory to the poor response that this very deadly and devastating disease has been getting from the committee of nations especially the western nations with their more advanced technology and expertise. These present outbreaks however reveals how all nations of the world is at risk of getting this disease imported into their country.
The world is a global village and with movement across countries that are very far apart now possible within hours the possibility of getting it across to other part of the world is very high. We have seen the Nigeria case where an American Liberian  national Patrick Sawyerr carried it form Liberia to Nigeria.
Other volunteer workers from other countries are now coming down this time around which is usually not the case before. We have noticed 3 Americans working in Liberia coming down with the disease with 2 successfully treated so far while a Briton serving in Sierra leone too also recovering from  the disease.
Now the world especially the western world are now seriously looking at the disease and how to conquer it. However, it takes for them to see how it can affect them before it was taken seriously by them.
This is sad considering how many lives had been lost and still loosing to this terrible disease before every body is now waking up to its reality. Interest was not shown because the research companies does not see how it can be profitable to them after all it usually comes in an outbreak and disappears, affects poor communities with no possibility of it reaching cities with larger populace or even their countries.
Now all research companies are now into it seriously now that the world is talking about it and the possibility of profit is now high.
It really, really is unfortunate and a sad testimony to how the world works and things are done only when  there is going to be something to be gained and not necessarily for humanity.
It is my hope that humanity will not find itself in situations like these again. The ebola disease is one of the greatest pestilences that the world has ever witness but the good news is that people are still able to survive ti.
In the outbreak in DR Congo  in 1995 some group of the Congolese doctors decided to use the blood from a survivor to treat a nurse involved in caring for those infected and who also got sick from it and they decided to give her the blood from the survival of the disease hoping that the immunity developed by him will help the nurse and she was able to recover and 7 out of 8 treated that way survived.
The international volunteers resisted the treatment being carried out on her and the  others  but they still went ahead.
Even Dr Brantley was given such treatment before he was transferred to the US. It is sad that such treatment that has worked all this while was ignored for such along time and it is sad because the idea did not come from international community it was not accepted it was rejected as not being ethically correct.
However, things will not always remains the same forever as change is the only constant thing in life and of course it is part of evolving.
This is what the WHO has done and has approved this method as a means of treating those affected. For those who took a  long time to evolve and those who did not it is the end result that matters because everybody has faced and accepted the challenges and the reality of this terrible disease and are now evolving – for better. Do you think the west was slow in responding? what else could have been done to control these disease? Your views will be highly appreciated,

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

About Ebola and its effect on medical practice in west Africa.

For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these- it might have been ...john whittler.

Ebola is a dangerous, cataclysmic, deadly viral disease that has affected west african countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal and Nigeria causing so much pain, death and misery.
It is unfortunate that presently there is a lot of outburst and concern with this present outbreak despite the fact that Ebola has been around for close to 38 years and is a sad testimony to the apathy of the world to a disease that has the capacity to destroy and devastate whole families and communities with death to the health workers and psychological trauma to those fortunate to survive it.
The present out break defies the normal pattern.
1. it is not localized to rural villages and communities.
2. it affected major cities and towns.
3. the strain of this present outbreak which is different from the usual one.
4. the potential it has  shown to spread globally thus putting the whole world at risk of its spread.
5. its devastating ability to be contacted and to kill its victim.
6. the prominence of vomiting and diarrhea more than the usual bleeding from orifice thus causing the name to be changed to ebola virus disease(EVD)
The effect of this on the response of the international community and the practice of medicine in the affected countries has been massive and interesting.
I will focus today on the effect it has had on practice of medicine. It is no gainsaying the fact that those who are affected mostly by the Ebola virus disease are the health workers who are usually those that will usually have first contact with the patient apart from their family members or those who brought them to the hospital. This is worsened by
1. their not applying any protective measures when initially attending to these patients since the presentation are usually like any other common illness like malaria, diarrhea, upper respiratory tract infection.
2. most clinics and hospitals do not practice or adhere to safe medical practice like a regular routine of disinfecting and cleaning the work environment viz a viz reducing the possibility of giving or receiving infection to or from the patient.
3. unavailability of funding to be able to ensure the continuity of applying safe and simple practice such as regular and consistent disinfecting of the clinic and in their handling of patients.
4. unavailability of personal protective equipment(PPE) which can be worn in handling suspected cases.
5. not quickly putting in place a system of surveillance and having a high suspicion index of viral disease with possible hemorrhagic symptoms like ebola, lassa fever that are highly infectious.
6. poor understanding of the need to spend money on the basic things that help to prevent hospital acquired infection by the government or even those managing the health centres even when they  happen to receive some funding which unfortunately comes irregularly.
7. poor sensitization and awareness of the public with regards to this terrible disease.
All this are the poor working conditions and human neglect that have also contributed to the widespread of this present outbreak.
It is however interesting to see the changes these has brought both on government, health workers and even on the part of the general public with regards to awareness about the importance of personal hygiene both at individual and hospital level.
It is good how the health personnel have seen how important it is to protect themselves and not to take many things for granted. The government carefree attitude toward the health sectors and its staff well being is now being awakened may be because it affected the rich and everybody is now talking about the need to fund the sector more and take care of its health workers well being.
Across these countries, the need for ensuring and practicing personal cleanliness and cultivating more healthy living practices. Even though it is sad that many lives had been lost which truly is a sad testimony to the health system in west africa but maybe in the long run it might be to the benefit of the future of their health system as everybody becomes proactive with regards to their health practices and the health system to mange the health challenges that they faced and will continue to face.

What do you think about the ebola situation in west africa? Do you think more could be done? Do you think that maybe in the long run it can lead to better health system being put in place. Your opinions will be highly appreciated. Next time we will discuss about the international response to this outbreak.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Why evolving is a must for a successful life

We are all a product of our family, environment, culture and belief be it religious or otherwise. All this different influences can be for good or for bad depending on what angle we are looking at it from.
The reality of life makes it pertinent to construe or get a balance between all the contending forces that we have to face in life thus developing a view or belief that will serve us well in life.
The fact of the matter is that life is beautiful, it is a privilege that is worth rejoicing about irrespective of our background. Come to think of it, it could have been worse. sometimes l wonder when l see animals and l gladly gives thank that no matter my situation l still have a life. One that l can think, create, makes choices and a life that is not based on instinct.
It is a privilege to know that l have a life, that my way of life is much higher than theirs. Not a life that can be cruelly stuffed out as a means of providing food or meat for human consumption. Sorry for my digression, the reason for this is just to emphasize the importance of why we should be grateful for the gift of life.
Having said that, in view of the contending forces we all have to cope with in life, it is important to accept the fact that there will be need for us to adjust to the challenges of life that we will surely face in the process of living.
l for example comes from a background where in our family, we are very expressive, we are a merry go lucky, garrulous family. we are outgoing, we are extroverts. Even though we love life and people l realize later on in life that my extrovert nature was causing me a lot of hindrances too.
How you may wonder, well, l tend to take over discussion with other people. l tend to be spontaneous in my speech and spirit. l love to talk and talk and ask questions with the mindset of getting to know the other person.
One way or the other people seems to get tired of me and getting to know me and l was always baffled when some people just don't want to be my friend.
The problem is not with being an extrovert but rather with being able to put a limit to how much of the extrovert nature should dominate me. The fact of life is that anything carried to the extreme will not be appreciated and rather than being a strength it can become a weakness.
Part of the process of evolving was for me to be sincere with myself and try to see how l can curtail this part of me to an extent that l will still not loose my identity. In a way trying  to curtail this aspect of my personality has helped met to try and be calmer in the way l do things. It has helped me to be able to see and study people more, to learn about human nature and to see how me myself could learn more from others by observing them and listening to them.
Learning to control the tendency to let go of all that is in me and to try and listen to others means more respect for me. People tends to respect you more when they don't seem to know much about you or you tend to say less about yourself compared to them because of the mystery that it brings up about you.
I believe there will always be enough time to show how wise we are and it is by getting a balance between the extrovert and introvert  that the complete perfect man is made.
When l say l am evolving it does not mean l am becoming an introvert. No, it is just that l am finding my level in between both extremes of personality which to me is the best place to be in other to learn and still be able to share with others.
From my experience so far it has been an enriching one. Better relationship with others, better way of doing things, better way of studying life and people and most importantly getting to know myself in an more deeper way.
That is an aspect of evolving that l will talk about today. Are you an extrovert or an introvert? How has it worked for you? Do you envy the other personality or do you see the positive in their personality? It will be interesting to know your thoughts on these issues and most especially the role you think evolving can play in both personality and how it can make for a better personality or individual.