Put the blame where it belongs!Thursday, September 09, 2021
Over the past week we have seen disturbing images of patients lying on hospital floors, and read shocking reports of people dying from lack of oxygen. The Government has responded, predictably, with tighter restrictions on freedoms and lambasted citizens who have not been following the protocols, blaming them for the spread of the virus.
This has been echoed by obedient Jamaicans, who are also blaming their “unruly” compatriots who would dare be outside their homes one minute past curfew. However, obedience is not a virtue, what is being obeyed determines whether being obedient is virtuous or, in this case, helps to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.
Therefore, obeying and trusting the Government's prescriptions are only good if the Government's declarations are correct. Unfortunately, the Opposition is useless, and insufficient debate has been had to examine if the protocols are beneficial, so the rulers blame the ruled, instead.
It would be unfair to blame the current Administration for the state of Jamaica's health-care capacity. However, it is even more unfair for a Government, ranked 10th out of 13 Caribbean countries in hospital beds per capita, to chastise its people because there are insufficient beds. Currently, there are approximately 786 COVID-19 cases in our hospitals, but if Jamaica had the average number of beds per capita as its regional counterparts we would have over 1,500 additional beds.
Another case of blame being placed, improperly, was in regard to the oxygen shortage. If KFC knows it has to have extra chicken for grandmarket why didn't our Government know to have extra oxygen for a pandemic? Why wasn't there a reserve that would have lasted long enough for replenishments to arrive?
The official COVID-19 strategy has been curfew, lockdown, mask mandates and, now, vaccination. While the cost of these protocols to the people of country is evident, the benefits are not.
Curfews and lockdowns persist without evidence of their efficacy being presented. Sweden without lockdowns had fewer deaths than its neighbouring countries. The same is true when a comparison is made between states in the US with lockdowns and those without.
Curfews and lockdowns reduce the number of hours people can conduct their business, thus causing more crowds as everyone is forced to do everything within the same narrow window.
A more effective strategy would be to focus attention on people most vulnerable to the effects of the virus. The severity of COVID-19 is not random; for example, being overweight increases one's risk. It therefore stands to reason that instead of no-movement days the Government should have had movement days on which citizens are encouraged to exercise and diet.
Another factor that increases one's COVID-19 risk is vitamin D deficiency. Over 80 per cent of patients that required hospitalisation were deficient in vitamin D. Adequate levels of vitamin D also reduced risk of death by over 50 per cent. The sun being a significant source of vitamin D makes the “tan a yuh yaad” order even more pernicious.
Zinc is equally important in reducing the impact of COVID-19. A study of critically ill COVID-19 patients found that 79.6 per cent were deficient in zinc. Currently, COVID-19 patients in our hospitals are treated with vitamin D, zinc, and turmeric.
Imagine the positive health impact we would have if, instead of the current fearmongering ads, the Government encouraged measures that would improve our immune system and make us more resilient against the novel coronavirus.
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