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LETTER OF THE DAY - Dangerous chik-V conspiracy theories

Published:Monday | September 29, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: With the chikungunya virus now raging across Jamaica, Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson, a month after very serious concerns were being raised, has decided to belatedly address the nation.

His address is far too late because the virus is now taking the country by storm and has infused a cocktail of confusion and conspiracy theories because of denial and poor management and planning on his Ministry's part.

Kill dem dead, most Jamaicans have convinced themselves that the chikungunya epidemic is a farce and that something else is causing so many people, including entire sports teams, offices and schools to be disrupted.

This is coming from the simple fact that Dr Ferguson failed to sensitise the nation on the virus and the peddling of very obviously erroneous numbers that created a huge space for conspiracy theories and false beliefs to take root.

This is no different from what is happening in West Africa with ebola. In Guinea, eight health workers were killed by villagers who were convinced that something else is at play. The spread in Guinea has been accompanied by fear and paranoia by citizens who feel the government and the international community cannot be trusted.

Many Guineans believe local and foreign health-care workers are part of a conspiracy which either deliberately introduced the outbreak, or invented it as a means of luring Africans to clinics to harvest their blood and organs.

Here people think the virus is airborne and as I saw on one TV report this thing "mek inna lab" for whatever crazy reason. Of course, I don't believe these theories but I am frightened that so many do. The minister has lost all credibility and it would be best that someone else takes charge.

DR ALLISON BANTON

Houston, Texas

allison4banton@gmail.com