by Uche Okorie
Dear Dr Wazobia,
Permit me to take five precious minutes of your time. Or less. Certainly less. It shouldn’t take you up to five minutes to read this letter of mine. I crave your indulgence Doctor. Kindly read this open letter of mine. I know how busy you can be and trust me I empathise with the professional challenges you face every day to discharge your duties to the best of your abilities. I do know also that now is not the best of times to be receiving seemingly idle open letters, especially as the season of open letters is gone.
But Doc please don’t stop reading. I certainly should not be writing you now. I know. Not with your busy call roasters and the many indignities you and your ilk have been subjected to by those two faced power shmucks in recent times.
Talking about shmucks, I am not one of those gargantuan politicians accustomed to dizzying heights, polished in the art of open letters spewing forth hoity-toity inanities ‘full of sound and fury signifying nothing’. Open letters that open blind doors that lead to nowhere while the truth remains firmly gagged behind closed doors. I am certainly not one of those, Doc.
I write you as a traumatised citizen with all sense of humility not just because of the great reverence I have for your profession but most importantly because I want you to know that you are my last resort. I do know that I may seem a tad desperate, writing to you in this manner. If you think so, you aren’t far from the truth. After all what is an open letter if not an awful epitaph of a non-existing or terminal relationship between the writer and the recipient?
I chose to write you not because I cannot write all these people you mentioned, but because the truth is that the train has left the station. What purpose is my rant to this people going to serve? The disease is here already. Coldblooded Patrick is dead.
Nevertheless, I have decided to write you over a very simple yet complicated matter.
Doc I write in a time of great medical turbulence not just in West Africa but in Nigeria. You will agree with me that we are facing perhaps the greatest public health challenge in decades. A public challenge so great that it is likely to inundate our fragile and in many respects non-existent medical facilities. A challenge that is hydra headed in its sinister ramifications.
Even as I write I am beginning to sense you are losing your patience. I can feel the heat of your rising temper. I mean, why am I writing you? Are you the distracted and puffy Ogas at the top who failed to press proactive buttons to stop the disease from getting to our climes? Or are you Patrick Sawyer that blanched godforsaken dual weapon of mass destruction that so ‘genocidally’ strutted his Ebola infested cadaver into our national space? Or are you the maker or custodian of Z-Mapp or other experimental drugs, talking from both sides of the mouth, while slowly nudging the drugs along in their leisurely stroll from across the Atlantic? Or are you the budgeter of abracadabra budgets with rotund highfalutin names like billions and zillions that can hardly pay the ransom of graft kidnapped basic medical tools for minions? Are you a miracle worker having a sparkling KPI achieving star studded CV, spanning several years of science defying miracles, conjured consistently in perennial crusades? Are you? Aren’t you just a doctor doing your best like the rest of us to make ends meet? So why am I disturbing your peace?
Doki abeg no vex.
Don’t lose your temper yet.
I chose to write you not because I cannot write all these people you mentioned, but because the truth is that the train has left the station. What purpose is my rant to this people going to serve? The disease is here already. Coldblooded Patrick is dead. The budgeter of budgets are gleefully rolling out their magical figures and those precious millipede drugs are hopefully sauntering gingerly to our shores. But while the drugs tarry what choice do I have really?
I am writing you as my last bastion of hope before my fear of morbidity washes away the last vestige of my common sense.
I don’t want to die Doc.
This thing they imported here unites us Doc. Was it not your breed who just yesterday by her singular act of martyrdom slowed the progress of death hither? Over 150 million of us arranged in 15 million philharmonic orchestras cannot thank Angels Adadevoh and Egelonu enough. So why am I writing you?
It’s simple. I write because of another of your ilk- the OO7 James Bond Ebola Vanquisher and now vanquished late Dr Ike Sam Enemuo and his living medical collaborators. I will refrain from judging his motives for accepting to secretly treat a patient he knew had Ebola and the utterly despicable contempt for the lives of others it entailed. Neither will I waste any spittle on the guilt ridden afterthought patient nor on his accomplices who so selfishly smuggled Ebola into Port Harcourt, may they live with their consciences. I will rather point out to you that this public health crisis has demonstrated one thing namely that you Doctors are in a very unique position of making this crisis infinitely better or infinitely worse. You are strategically placed in this highly dysfunctional system of ours to slow Ebola’s progress or advance it.
I will thus remonstrate with you Doc to please rise up and embrace your Hippocratic Oath afresh. One that I and the whole citizenry is administering on you this day. Swear Doc yet again upon all the healing gods, principles and beliefs known to man that at this trying times you will uphold ethical standards; that you will not jeopardise the health of all of us for self-preservation or to pander to the wishes of those who can pay for your conscience but cannot pay for our souls. Swear Doc. Swear to me that you will be the one person who will do your job like an Angel Adadevoh. With integrity. With fairness. With bravery.
Everyone else has failed. Our deeply flawed system of containment has failed. My courage may yet fail me. But if it is not too much I ask that you do not fail me.
This is all I Ask Doc.
Thank you and God Bless.
Uche Okorie is a lawyer and poet. He holds an LLM in Global Business Law from New York University and an LL.M in Maritime Law from the National University of Singapore. He is currently a PhD candidate in Maritime and Logistics at the Australian Maritime College, a specialist Institute of the University of Tasmania, Australia where he was awarded a Tasmanian Graduate Research Scholarship.
He can be reached on twitter on @uchekorie