uganda, National Development Plan, kidney transplant, Kampala, kidney transplants,
The difficulty of developing a society that lacks a scientific outlook to life becomes painfully obvious every passing day. No wonder the Uganda government in its 2021-26 National Development Plan seeks to promote a mind-set change that may help us to think more logically.
A drama that has been occupying Kampala for over a fortnight revolves around a young man who accused a city hospital of stealing his kidney, and he was supported by some highly educated people. The alleged illegal kidney harvest victim was walking under his own strength a couple of days after some fatty tissue was cut off his belly for grafting an accident wound on his head.
Doctors explained that kidney transplants are done when both donor and recipient are in the same surgical facility, and laboured to explain the delicacy and complexity of the procedure. Thorough examination actually established that the young man was born with one kidney – which is not uncommon, as one in 750 people is born that way – and therefore wouldn’t have survived if it had been removed.
But, in our unscientific approach, we preferred to continue thinking whenever a greedy medic gets a chance, he yanks a kidney from an unsuspecting patient, hides it some cupboard and then goes out to look for a buyer. When the price is agreed after a few days, Mr Bad Doc pulls the kidney out of the cupboard — or fridge, since we are modern people — and ships it to the buyer in some foreign country. It’s that easy in our unsophisticated minds.
Although organ theft does happen and is very unfortunate, this simplistic perception makes fighting it harder, as it does to other life-saving interventions. And it did not start yesterday. Heaven knows how many children have died because their parents avoided having them vaccinated after being told that Europeans are trying to sterilise Africans. In recent years, police have been having a hard time getting people to fasten seat belts while in the front seats of cars. Our logic? That if you are “tied” with the belt and the car crashes, it is difficult for rescuers to pull you out of the wreck.
The unscientific gibberish gets even more dangerous. Since HIV/Aids emerged four decades ago, there were depraved fellows who got convinced that sleeping with a virgin cures it. The brutality of illogical thinking gets even worse. There are still sick minds that believe that slaughtering a neighbour’s child will make them rich.
On a lighter but sad note, some people — unfortunately including, if not mostly women — have taken loans and “seeded” all the money in a pastor in the firm belief that they will become rich. Well, a few have actually become rich if the pastor went ahead and guided them to work hard with diligence and creativity, which would still have happened without borrowed to “seed,” so you can call the “seed” school fees in their case.
Efforts in teaching us to think logically need to be encouraged. Even Pope Francis, when he visited us a few years back, preached logic to our youth, saying that nothing comes out of nothing. He did not say that you just keep praying to prosper.
But we still undermine efforts to get out of bad health and poverty. When an epidemic strikes, our people, including health workers and teachers, resist taking vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation. When we are told to use safety belts, we say the traffic cops just want to extort money from us. When our engineers design vehicles and source parts to build them, we say they “just assemble”. When a young woman works hard and honestly, her peers say she is not smart. And, oh yes,xSo, instead of creating local jobs for healthy young people who are at risk of organ theft when they go looking for work in the tough lands out there, we will end up wastefully diverting our vigilance to protect sick people’s organs in local hospitals, which nobody wants to steal in the first place.