By Desalegn Birara
In summer 2009, when I returned to my birth town having been to Addis Ababa University as a sophomore, everyone in my village was drowned in malaria & cholera outbreak. Our neighbor, a family of eight persons were all sick and had no one to prepare meals. The moment I arrived at their house none of them had the energy to talk to me, let alone to open the door. I opened myself and entered to figure out what can be done with my capacity. They did not eat for days, and no one was there to bring them drinks at their beds. They were not willing to eat even after I prepared some. They only drunk a little water and stayed oblivion. I could not take them to the clinic at once, obviously. To carry one by one to the clinic also would take eight days, as the clinic is a half day walking distance from the village where there still is no road access for ambulance, nor telephone network and electricity. Therefore, I decided to run to the clinic and bring the nurse to the village, instead of taking patients to the clinic.
Accordingly, I went to Taja health center, the only health service facility in the entire Shedeho-Meket district- which covers an area of nearly 500km2 with a population of nearly 60,000. There are zero doctors, one nurse, one health extension (assistant nurse), and one registrar (ካርድ ክፍል). These were the total number of physicians in the health center duly. More surprisingly, when I arrived at the health center, the whole compound was filled in patients who were sleeping just on the bare ground. The three physicians ordered the patients to sleep in rows so that they can walk between the rows and give injections. The worst is yet to come. The health center did not have enough syringes for use & throw. Therefore, they used one syringe for one row of the patients-which perhaps could be thirty to forty people. The woman prepares the patients’ buttock, and the nurse injects the medicine. Following the nurse is the assistant who takes the used syringe from the nurse’s hand and rinses it in a bowl water; and give it back to him so that he can use it for the next patient. The bowl water is just water fetched from the river; and the same bowl water is used to rinse the syringe multiple times. After one raw of patients were treated by that syringe, the bowl water was dumped, and the syringe sent to lab for wash in a boiling water. I observed a lot more and guessed the number of patients in hundreds, only in that single day. So, how can I ask this nurse to do me the favor I was there all for? Sometimes, the nurses do favors as shown in the photo below.
I returned to the village and told them what I saw at Taja. They regretted for my waste of the day and added, they could have told me what the health center would look had I consulted them before going. As a last resort, they asked me to bring them holy water from the church the following day. I did. The family of eight persons survived without any medication, while heartbreakingly, more than half of the patients at the health center died.
After a year, I went in the same season and heard that the district was reported to be the highest HIV AIDS hit area in the region. I spoke to the nurse what most probably could have spread the virus as anyone can guess. The nurse admitted. Yes, it is more likely so. Reusing the syringes was the coping mechanism that the government administrators told to health workers. The health workers believed the alternatives and techniques that were indicated by the ministry of health as coping mechanisms to alleviate the problem would work. In fact, weather that worked out or not, if the government orders any activity, they do it without questioning. Washing the syringe and reusing was amongst the government approved practices in the health center. He explained how hard it had been to acquire basic kits, appliances, and medicine.
Only contraceptives had been sent to the health center in bulk. For all sorts of supplies that the health center requested, contraceptives had been provided. Meaning, if the health center demands 100 syringes for instance, the health bureau sends to it 100 contraceptives. The district health bureau transmitted complaints of health facilities to the zone offices and regional state health directors. But no one had any different answer, nor solutions. It was once, informed to the federal government, even. The complaint was forwarded to the ministry of health, minister Dr Tedros Adhanom. Nonetheless, all the structures and offices that the complaint passed through were silenced.
As a graduating class student in 2011, I had the opportunity to request my academic dean at the department of sociology to write a cooperation letter for research. Accordingly, I took one and went to the ministry of health head office. The topic of my research as addressed in the cooperation letter was ‘assessment on the social health insurance strategy’ though my interest was more on the malaria and cholera outbreak, HIV Aids intentional transmission and Permanent contraceptives. I was not sure whether the government knew about the outbreak and the victimized areas. I was also curious to know why contraceptives were provided for the demands of any other medical supply. I talked to some officers in the ministry of health about these issues; and reviewed different reports.
Let alone the widely spread epidemic, the neutering campaign by the name of vaccinating schoolgirls was the ministry’s plan, specifically, in Amhara region. The grip on medical supplies including kits and syringes was strategic. The idea of reusing syringe and the scene I observed at Taja health center was planned to happen. Plights and pleas were ignored, not unknown. Many people in my village and relatives, including my two grandmothers, my elder sister’s husband and others died in this epidemic. The malaria and cholera outbreak were used as genocide tools by the TPLF government under Dr Tedros Adhanom’s coordination. Contaminating the public with transmitted diseases in any possible way was additional objective. Tedros Adhanom became the WHO director after this crime of genocide.
Having this memory as a background, today on May 3, 2023, I saw a photo of children on Taja Health Center’s social media account that was captioned “successful vaccination campaign”. I learnt in the details that they have been aggressively injecting into school children something they believed is “HPV vaccination”. They believed it is a vaccine because, the government approved it so; and they are also giving COVAX anew. Oh Taja!
Photo: Taja health center 2023
Immediately, I sent a message to the health center director stating the government’s plan to exterminate Amharas, slowly. He responded saying “the vaccination is EAPDA approved and planned by EMH-Ethiopian Ministry of Health. He underlined the conviction to give these vaccines and expressed that opposing advises against this campaign would rather be ridiculous. It is not easy to explain to him that such campaigns are directed by the government who deploys the national defense force to obliterate towns and villages supported by air strikes. The OLF Shené terrorist group, now at a honeymoon in Zanzibar by the name of negotiating with the government who once labelled it terrorist, is disclosed to be a section of the government’s army that has been deployed to cleanse Amharas from Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz regions. This government costs anything to exterminate Amhara. In this circumstance, the nurse argues with me about the government approval of these vaccinations. Government approval means the same process as the one Dr Tedros did to us a decade ago. What has been changed to us since then, if not had ever been aggravated? How on earth is it possible for people to trust government to this level, even when it is on active war to eliminate themselves? I read an article written by Professor Girma Berhanu about peoples’ long-standing default attitude of trusting government. However, how long and until when is attitude sustaining as ‘default’, please? As of the day this essay is written, the Amhara region is literally in a war fighting the Oromuma government; and yet, takes vaccinations that their perpetrator approved. Are my people normal?
Recently, I saw a daring government press release on the half million girls from Amhara region recruited for domestic work in Saudi Arabia. It is also stated that the salary of these girls will not be paid to them directly. Instead, their employers will deposit the salary, amount that the employer agreed with the Ethiopian government, in the Ethiopian government’s account. Okay, what is slavery, then? If the worker has no right to compete or negotiate on remuneration, or worse than that, if the worker has no right to receive wage from employer, worker is reified. Worker is no more considered as human being. That is much worse and beyond the concept of alienation. It is a part and parcel of the ongoing genocide on Amhara people. In the softest version, it is an attempt to keep these young women away from men in their fertile age so that the population growth stagnates. There is also a desire to maneuver the demography in some places where Oromuma plans to resettle proffered clans in parts of Amhara lands. Meaning other people will be settled in places of the pulled half million Amharas.
Removing these youth Amhara has a multifold advantage for the regime. One, it already has a commitment to exterminate Amhara; and if any popular force such as Fano stands to resist, the youth women will be highly instrumental to support Fano in preparing and supplying logistics. Hence, sending them away, weakens the regime’s opponent. The necro-politics as Prof Girma explained, is mastered by Oromuma, and fully applied on Amhara. Two, in their stay abroad, they make money that directly falls in their account, which supports the acute need for foreign exchange that they needed to purchase drones and long-range rifles to abolish Amhara. Thus, these Amhara women help the regime kill their own families.
Generally, ignorance of the Amhara people themselves is the undeniable contributing factor for the most part of their own plight. The regime has already expressed its dedication to break and eliminate Amhara. Yet, the victims seem hardly understanding the undergoing. The Amhara elite seems to have nothing to provide for its people to withstand the attack. Most of them even proudly support the regime.