Tuesday, November 21, 2006

He left and it was too late

I go to the local lab for a routine malaria test. I enter the small room where the lab technician works, say hi and perch on the stool. I roll up my sleeves. Just then, a man enters. A spectral flash of irritation crosses my consciousness. I hate queue jumpers. He stands by the door. Quickly, I notice something is awry and my annoyance melts away. He stands very still, and he stand close to the door. He is nervous.

"About my result. What am I to do?" His voice is laden with sorrow.
The technician, who is putting a phial into a box, looks back at him.
"Please. I am not a doctor. I cannot help you." Her tone is dismissive.

By now, she has produced a pricking blade, to extract a drop of blood from my thumb. I fumble to put back my cuff link. My mind is spinning. The roulette wheel slowly clicks to a stop and now I understand. His sorrow transfers itself to me in a Van der Graaf moment: I need to act.

But she already has my wrist in her rubber gloved hands, and performs a practised jab. I am adrift from the world, following his footsteps away, into a chaos of confusion and desperation. Tonight, he will be at the Church, eyes closed with all his passion. Or he will be swinging in the loneliest place he can find to die. She presses the blood onto a thin film of glass, and hands me cotton wool. It is too late, he is gone.

In Nigeria, people diagnosed positive have no information on what to do next. Counselling is rare, and non-existent in the labs. In the ignorance about the cheap drugs now available that will sustain their lives to what is widely considered by those-that-know to be a natural span, their lives are destroyed. Some will pray for deliverance. Others will end themselves. Meanwhile, Aids is big business, for those with an NGO tale to spin. The lack of information is an abstract crime, that will inevitably lead to concrete deaths.


Styl Council 8:16 pm  

This is precisly why the number of voluntary AIDS testing in Nigeria is probabaly all of a big ZERO!!!

dami 1:41 pm  

"she has produced a pricking blade"
the one she used on the man?

It would be a good idea if they had separate clinics- for general health and sexual health clinic for free contraceptions, "workshops", and Aids information centre

Jaycee 9:49 pm  

hmmm...when u said "she produced a pricking blade," I was thinking u got scared that the HIV virus ight contaminate u somehow.

I pray this whole scenery changes in Nigeria...that there would be more counseling, and that the spread of the virus would decrease in itself. It is a very ungodly disease.

Ore 1:41 pm  

It pained me to read this. This is why information is critical for everybody. If that lab assistant had received proper training, she could have handled the situation much better and been able to let the gentleman that he has a lot more options than he thinks he has.

I think it is important that all health workers (regardless of whether they work in general medicine or in a sexual health clinic) are trained to be more sensitive and knowledgeable in dealing with people who test positive.

Anonymous,  1:07 pm  

There is little understanding of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. One day I asked a few of my colleagues what they knew about HIV/AIDS and I was amazed at how ignorant they actually were! To think that I work at a firm that's supposedly composed of enlightened professionals! What chance does the 'little man' have out there?
It's the sad reality about this country we live in.

Speaking of malaria, I've tried all paths of treatment (prescribed by various doctors) and they don't seem to be working. It's almost like my system is learning to coexist with the parasite but the thing is I'm never 100% myself. Can anyone suggest something? Please!

lolaojiks 11:47 pm  

This is the harsh reality of Naija.

My dad works in the health services in Lagos and he once had to counsel someone who had just found out they had HIV just because there was no such service.

This was over 5 years ago but i was so moved by the story then as i was by your post.

In Nigeria, it seems the human life is often taken for granted and even the simplest things are not done to make life or its tribulations bearable

Anonymous,  7:26 am  

wow i really really thought that they were counselling centers where you can get both counselling and HIV test, im not kidding oh. i think its for free sef

i will post the list at a later date

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