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Don faults current efforts in COVID-19 fight

By Lawrence Njoku, Enugu
16 December 2021   |   3:44 am
An anthropologist with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Peter Jazzy Ezeh, has faulted current efforts in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that there is need for inter-disciplinary research collaboration to fully understand the virus.

An anthropologist with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Peter Jazzy Ezeh, has faulted current efforts in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that there is need for inter-disciplinary research collaboration to fully understand the virus.

Ezeh, who is also President of the Anthropological Society of Nigeria (EASON), said the socio-ecological factors associated with the disease have not been fully captured in the global efforts to contain the pandemic.

The former Head, Department of Sociology and Anthropology at UNN, criticised the current approach to tackling the disease, yesterday, in his speech during the international conference of anthropologists at the University of Namibia (UNAM), Windhoek, Namibia.

The event, which was originally planned as a physical meeting, was changed to a virtual format due to the challenges posed by the disease.

It was organised in collaboration with the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA), Pan-African Anthropological Association (PAAA), Anthropology in Southern Africa (ASnA), Ethnological, EASON and UNAM.

He said some official reactions to COVID-19 were driven by panic and other non-medical factors even when the nature of the virus and how it spread were not yet fully understood.

Ezeh argued that it was against familiar medical logic that the disease was barely understood when the medical authorities rushed into the production of vaccines.

“While medical scientists researched on discovering a vaccine in more familiar ways, efforts at this point should have concentrated on non-vaccine preventive measures, and treatment of those that had already contracted the disease,” he said.

He added that claims of cure and prophylactics from practitioners of ethnomedicine in such countries as Madagascar and Nigeria had not been given adequate attention, and wondered why there seemed to be desperation to promote vaccines by European and American pharmaceutical establishments.

“There are claims that ethnomedicine is effective in fighting the disease. Have such claims been thoroughly investigated, and if indeed they are found to be credible, must the world continue to stick to the Hobson choice of vaccines of the Western-style medical model? He queried.

He added that there were also reactions to the disease that suggest extra-medical influences that require specialist investigations in other academic fields.

For example, he queried the haste with which travel ban was imposed on some African countries when the Omicron variant of the virus was reported, whereas nothing was done to the Chinese when the original virus was discovered in that country.