Let’s Face It: “Heaven Helps Those Who Help Themselves”

Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah.

Does the Ministry of Health have enough vaccines to inoculate the entire population of West Point, currently the most densely populated urban slum teeming with an estimated number of 100,000 people crammed into an area no more than 5 square miles?

Well, how about the population of Monrovia with an estimated population close to 2 million persons? Does the Ministry of Health have the capacity to give each resident of Monrovia a jab?

Realistically speaking, the answer is a big NO! The Health Ministry does not have the capacity to inoculate the population of Monrovia let alone the entire country with an estimated population of 5 million, although it has been vigorously making pronouncements of intent to do so.

Already, Health authorities have announced the initial batch of Astra-Zeneca vaccines have been exhausted with no clearly spelt out commitment by her international partners to provide enough vaccines to inoculate the entire population.

Against this backdrop, the very safety of the vaccines has been questioned although producers and the World Health Organization (WHO) have declared the benefits outweigh the risks. The Astra-Zeneca vaccine has been reported to produce blood clots while the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is now reported to trigger rare forms of autoimmune disease that attacks the immune system.

Although the vaccines were not subject to exhaustive field tests, primarily because of the extreme urgency to do something to halt the disease in its tracks, people are being encouraged to take them anyway. But our Health authorities are aware that there are just not enough vaccines to go around. Rather they have been encouraging the people to report for testing and when found positive, they will be taken into one of the COVID-19 treatment centers.

Reliable reports, some from former internees at the Star Base treatment center on Bushrod Island have accused Health authorities of hiding the truth of the very death rates at that center. A former patient and COVID-19 survivor told the Daily Observer that one morning when he drew apart his window curtain, to his shocking surprise he observed a truckload of dead bodies awaiting to be taken for burial, yet more bodies were being brought to the truck.

Rather than providing adequate information to the public on how the disease manifests itself, which would help them make informed decisions on how to address their health concerns; instead, they talk about social distancing and the wearing of face masks as a virtual end in itself.

What is commonly acknowledged by survivors is that the disease manifests itself firstly as fatigue and fever, which is mistakenly thought to be malaria but which is then followed by a dry cough and heavy head cold, which makes breathing difficult. It is this excessive accumulation of mucus in the nose, throat and respiratory tract which, if not treated, leads to death.

But Health authorities have failed to acknowledge that virtually every ethnic group has developed ways of treating such manifestations, especially the clearing of the air passage ways using time tested indigenous methods. Health authorities apparently forget to remember for centuries our people have inhabited the forests as forest dwellers and, for centuries, have developed natural cures and responses to a wide range of pathogenic diseases.

For example the ordinary lime (lemon), a natural source of vitamin C when taken, serves to boost the immune system. So is garlic which is a natural source of Selenium, and then ginger, as we all know, helps to keep the respiratory tract free of mucus while the “Life Everlasting Leaf” Bryophyllum Pinnatum is used here in Liberia to treat cough and cold. 

An extract of the above listed remedies mixed/blended with honey is time tested for the treatment/removal of mucus (cold) from the respiratory tract and can be used effectively in the fight against COVID-19.  For the doubters, please find below further information on the “Life Everlasting Leaf (Bryophyllum pinnatum) and it comes from the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Zakhm Bryophyllum pinnatum (Lam.) Oken (Crassulaceae) is a perennial herb commonly known as  -e-hyatpattharcaṭṭa and parṇabīja. The other synonyms are Bryophyllum calycinum and Kalanchoe pinnata.” 

It is widely distributed in Madagascar, tropical Africa, tropical America, India, China and Australia. In Ayurveda, the plant is also known as Pāṣāṇabheda which means “dissolver of stones”. The leaves of Bryophyllum pinnatum are widely used in traditional and ethnomedicinal practices for treatment of urinary insufficiency and stone disorders. 

The fresh leaf juice or along with the powder of 2-3 black peppers (Piper nigrum Linn.) is used as folklore medicine by various tribes of Muzaffarnagar (Uttar Pradesh), Midnapur and Murshidabad[16] districts of West Bengal, Aurangabad (Maharashtra), Nath people and Sonowal kacharis of Bhekulajanvillage in Dibrugarh district of Assam for treatment of kidney and gallbladder stones.

Leaves are also used by tribes in Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria and Mianwali district of Pakistan in ethnomedicinal practices for treatment of urinary calculi. Moreover, the leaves of this plant constituted an important part of the poly-herbal formulations which are used for antilithiatic purposes.

Leaves are known to possess neuro sedative and muscle relaxant, antimicrobial, antiulcer, uterine contractility, antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic, antihypertensive and nephroprotective activities. The medicinal and pharmacological properties of Bryophyllum pinnatum are ascribed to the presence of alkanes, alkanols, triterpenes and sterols, triterpenoids and phenanthrenes, flavonoids, bufadienolides, alkaloids, glycosides and lipids.

In view of the above, our Health authorities ought to begin looking more inwards in the search for help to combat the COVID-19. Messages from the MoH appear to convey the impression that we are completely helpless and have to wait for the benevolence of donor institutions for vaccines which are just now undergoing field trials and testing and we, it appears, are unwittingly allowing ourselves to be used as guinea pigs.

As Christians, the Holy Bible tells us to “watch, fight and pray. We must watch for its symptoms, fight it with what we have in our local arsenals and, of course, pray for success in battle until the vaccines arrive. Above all, we must remember the adage that says “Heaven Helps Those Who Help Themselves”.