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For if you’re unaware, with your eyes and ears for a second, surely convince you I can, that your body is your body and only you can make the determination, of what to do or not do, with it.
And herein is the reminder. Tuskegee is a City in Alabama, the deep South of America, for which only a trivial knowledge of American History is requisite, to stimulate memory, that Alabama is Black and being Black in America, classifies you as dispensable. Therefore, it stands to reason, if you really ever needed to, that from the conceptualisation of a deadly human experiment would automatically propel Alabama as the ideal petri dish, for their numbered melanated guinea pigs.
As a matter of fact, historical guinea pigs we were, to the medical fraternity, dating back to slavery. Notwithstanding, such was deemed “legal” for humans we weren’t but with the “Tuskegee Study of untreated Syphilis in untreated Negro male,” humanised we actualised. In fact, the aforementioned retrospective study antecedent dates back to 1928 when an “Oslo Study of Untreated Syphilis” reported on the pathological manifestations of untreated syphilis, for curative penicillin was not yet discovered, in hundreds of White males. But the term retrospective study mandates clarification. For it is undertaken in the present but analysing in the past, the cohorts inflicted with syphilis and their medical records, in search of answers to the syphilitic pathologies observed.
Nevertheless, the U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study Tuskegee Group wanted to build on the Oslo work, scaffolded by a prospective study. And this too mandates clarification. In this case, the cohorts were without syphilis but once infected, collective analysis of the medical records and pathologies of both cohorts and controls are undertaken in the future, in search of answers to the syphilitic pathologies observed.
Nonetheless, the 1932 study aimed to establish the natural history of syphilis, for which 600 Black men were coerced with free healthcare. Of the 600, 399 cohorts were non-consensually infected with syphilis while 201 controls, weren’t. Of note, despite curative penicillin was available it wasn’t offered.
But 40yrs later, the unethical study was brought to a screeching halt when it was leaked to the media. By then 28 men had died directly from syphilis, 100 died from complications of syphilis, 40 of the men wives were infected with syphilis and 19 children were born with congenital syphilis.
To date, the psychological scars from these unethical studies, dating back to slavery, are still raw. For which, many Blacks remain distrusting of the medical fraternity, brought to the fore by the pandemic. Many are highly suspicious of the Covid vaccines, adjudging their use as another dehumanising experiment. For the historical underpinnings of these misgivings shouldn’t escape policy-makers and healthcare professionals.
Nonetheless, from these dark 40yrs, medical ethics was birthed.
Medical ethics is an applied branch of ethics which analyzes the practice of clinical medicine and related scientific research. It’s underpinned by principles that professionals can refer to, in cases of ethical uncertainty. These are;
Autonomy: Personal autonomy encompasses, at a minimum, self-rule that is free from controlling interference by others and from certain limitation, such as inadequate understanding, that prevents meaningful choice. For this speaks to your body, your rules. Where patients provided with information of which they consider, then make their decisions, which need not concur with that of the doctor.
Beneficence: This underline that healthcare professionals should do good. This was not the case in Tuskegee, for 399 men were infected with syphilis and denied treatment.
Non-maleficence: Healthcare professionals shouldn’t intentionally do harm. In the context of Covid, if a doctor, with a financial interest in the hydroxychloroquine industry, advises patients that hydrochloroquine is curative of Covid, even though he knows it be false, that is deemed non-maleficence,
Justice: This speaks to providing fair, equitable and appropriate treatment in the light of what is owed to persons. Indeed, no healthcare service has limitless resources, consequently rationing is inescapable.
For this is a common ethical dilemma. A bed-bound 90yr old who has severe dementia, develops Covid related respiratory failure. Concurrently, a 25yr old mother of two young children, also has Covid related respiratory failure. Who would you ventilate?
The reality is, ventilation will not change the outcome for the 90yr old, hence ventilating him over the 25yr old mother wouldn’t be a fair, equitable and appropriate utilisation of limited resources.
Law: Law is intricately linked with medicine in many forms e.g. euthanasia.
PPP and autonomy
My eyes were drawn to a snippet from the Guyana Chronicle, published on the 22nd May 2021, of heading “No lockdown” and opening statement “take the vaccine now or risk having to pay later.” From perusing this dictatorial trifle, obvious it is that the Chronicle Marionette in Chief, published this unequivocal balderdash, under the directive of a cretinous PPP Marionettist.
For obvious it is, from the aforementioned narrative on medical ethics, that this article in the State media, wasn’t informed by law, for treatment can’t be forced, with few exceptions, on a competent adult. Indeed, as long as we remain humans, it’s our right to decline such, even if it appears irrational. And that epitomises personal autonomy.
Of exception, health and social-care professionals are held to a higher standard, therefore are mandated to take yearly influenza vaccine, since the nature of their jobs have them in regular contact with vulnerable patients.
Additionally, a competent adult with a highly infectious disease e.g. multi-drug resistant TB, can be forcefully isolated and treated by the State. The rights of the many supersede the right of one.
Neither is the case with Covid vaccines.
The causes of vaccine hesitancy are multifactorial, for which policy makers must collaboratively engage those hesitant to better understand their concerns, while respecting their right to decline. Undoubtedly, the PPP big-stick approach, is not only insensitive but unhelpful.
Having said that, I’ve written ad nauseam on incentivised approaches to vaccination, but such was incinerated on account of the messenger perceived anti-red lineage. Additionally, Covid information propagation was recommended to counter voluminous disinformation, but that too was relegated to the incinerator.
But undeniably, this epidemic of vaccine hesitancy is birthed out of PPP policies. For they politicised Covid. They terminated contracts of hundreds, discriminate by the thousands and victimised and harassed countless numbers of Blacks. Further, vaccine transparency is shockingly absent. Then the appalling vaccination with experimental vaccines. Compounding that is the vaccination with unapproved vaccines.
And the solution is equally complex. For it will take much more than the outlier community elder characterising PPP vaccination programme as “excellent work.” The masses are well informed. And most certainly, the outlier community elder, disregarding the indisputable evidence in imploring the citizenry to vaccinate with poor quality, unapproved vaccines, is unlikely to be helpful.
For this isn’t only a complex but also a very serious situation that mandates treating as such. Firstly, PPP must acknowledge that their policies have caused significant harm and loss of lives. Only with such, can confidence be restored to engage in a truly meaningful inclusive approach to address this crisis.