No Ghanaian should be a guinea pig for Ebola experiments

Thu, 11 Jun 2015 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Folks, you must already have heard the news report about the trial of a vaccine for the deadly Ebola that is either already being done in Ghana or is about to be done. When I first heard about this experiment, I cringed seriously for many reasons:

1. When Ebola struck Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea (the three worst affected in the West African sub-region), Ghanaians panicked and prayed hard that the disease shouldn't spread to the country. Indeed, many measures were taken, especially in connection with citizens of the affected countries travelling to Ghana or in terms of Liberians living in the Buduburam camp.

2. The Ghanaian government rallied all agencies under the Ministry of Health to prepare for any case occurring in Ghana, especially after some alleged "victims" had been taken through diagnosis and proved negative. The panic mode persisted for long.

3. President Mahama personally participated in relief efforts and visited Sierra Leone (refusing to shake hands with that country's President at the time---fear of contracting Ebola?).

4. At the government's initiative, Ghana became the command and control centre for the Ebola relief efforts.

5. Ghanaian health officials physically participated in efforts to solve the Ebola problem in the affected countries. None contracted Ebola.

At the end of the day, no Ghanaian contracted Ebola; no Ghanaian is on record as having died from Ebola. As the United Nations declared the affected countries as being free of Ebola, the world heaved a huge sigh of relief. The disease came from no-one-knows-where and left in its trail massive devastation. The affected countries are still counting the cost, even as the rest of the world prays that Ebola shouldn't recur.

Now, here is the main issue. At the time that Ebola was destroying lives in those countries, Ghana's main health problem was cholera, which killed many in the Greater-Accra Region and some parts of the country. The government did its best but the problem persisted. The threat of recurrence is high now, especially following the massive flooding that is compounding environmental problems all over the country.

All of a sudden, we are confronted with an experiment on Ebola in Ghana, which makes me wonder whether Ghanaians and their leaders are really thinking right. The news report is that "clandestine attempts are being made by health authorities in the country to experiment the vaccines at Hohoe in the Volta region of Ghana".

StarrFMonline.com sources revealed that the Hohoe midwifery training school has been selected for the project. As part of an enticement package, students who will allow themselves to be used as ‘guinea pigs’ for the exercise , according to the highly placed source, will be given GHc 200 and a cell phone as reward.

Medical sources have told StarrFMonline.com that the exercise could be catastrophic on its host if not handled well.

The Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, Coalition for Ghana’s Independence Now (CGIN) and the Volta regional branch of the ruling NDC have all spoken against the exercise and called on government to step in.

And the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has refuted claims that the impending Ebola vaccine trial in Ghana will harm persons who will be used as subjects for the exercise.

(See it all here: https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=361484).


Only one overarching question: Why should the vaccines on Ebola be experimented on people in Ghana instead of countries that Ebola attacked?

Clearly, using Ghanaians as guinea pigs for this Ebola vaccine experiment is insulting and misguided. It is unethical, immoral, and despicable, especially if we consider what is being used as an inducement for participants.

If no Ghanaian suffered from Ebola and if the government's assurance that the country is not prone to an Ebola attack should be believed, what is the justification for conducting such an experiment on Ghanaians in Ghana?

Folks, do you see how stupid our people and their leaders can be? I am being blunt here and won't apologize for using "harsh language". The truth is that someone is positioned to exploit the situation, using Ghanaians as specimens. Why should it be so?

In the heat of the Ebola attack, we heard rumours about the cause and saw why citizens of the United States, Britain, and Spain attacked by Ebola were flown home and taken care of while Africans died. We heard all kinds of theories and allegations that Ebola was man-made---an experiment by the "whiteman" gone wrong. If it were so, can anybody in his/her right frame of mind agree that Ghanaians be used as guinea pigs for experimenting an Ebola vaccine, even when no Ebola threat is imminent or evident in Ghana?

Why not send the Ebola vaccines for experimentation in countries ravaged by Ebola and still prone to its resurgence, not where Ebola is not felt? Experimental or not, this exercise is misplaced and must not be allowed to take place in Ghana.

And the government is looking on unconcerned or tacitly supporting it? Aoooooooooo, my people!!! What is happening?

It is not for lack of knowledge that you will perish; it is for lack of commonsense, propriety, decency, and responsible behaviour on the part of those managing affairs and blindly leading you into the ditch. Why are Ghanaians and their leaders so easy to outwit---to initiative self-created problems only to turn round to blame others for the unbearable consequences? It is really sickening.

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.