WRITTEN BY EKWI AJIDE
Goal three of the sustainable Development goals aims at ensuring healthy life for and promoting well being of all at all ages.
In spite of the significant strides made in increasing life expectancy and reducing some killer diseases, people’s belief and attitude to some diseases seem to be inimical to the attainment of this goal.
This Special report take a look at people’s perception of buruli Ulcer, called Enyi Ule in local parlance.
Buruli Ulcer or enyi Ule, as it is known in Igbo language, started in Uganda in the 1960s and has emerged rapidly in many parts of the world, including Nigeria.
Buruli Ulcer is caused by a germ that mainly affects the skin and bones.
However, it is one of those ailments believed to be diabolically inflicted on a victim by some kind of sorcery and therefore, can only be managed by a native doctor, who will offer some kind of sacrifice to appease the gods of the land.
This may not be unconnected with the victims’ habit of visiting prayer houses and divination centers instead of the hospital.
This is the case of a young man, Nonso Nkwonta, who has lived with buruli Ulcer for over four years.
Nonso has visited many of such centers within the four years, all to no avail.
A herbalist, who claims to cure buruli ulcer, Dr John Okoye, says orthodox medicine cannot cure the ailment as it is the handiwork of the enemy.
He explains further in Igbo.
Agitated by this claim and the rumour that the substance that causes buruli ulcer is sold in the open market, I went on an expedition to one of such markets.
However, for fear of the unknown, I could not record my conversation with a seller of herbs in the market, who told me the substance is sold for one thousand naira.
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The herbs seller to me the substance may kill the victim depending on the victim’s kind of blood.
He, however, warned that there could be repercussions for one who inflicts the ailment on another.
But orthodox medical practitioners present a contrary view as Reverend Sister Dr Maureen Okeke says if diagnosed early, buruli ulcer is curable, and its treatment, free at designated hospitals.
Dr Maureen alerted that entire buruli ulcer is a disease caused by a germ and not by witchcraft; neither is it a curse and cannot be transmitted through direct contact with an affected person.
Buruli ulcer is not the only ailment commanding superstitious belief as some others like diarrhea and fever in infants have been associated with their growing new teeth just as weight loss is believed to bring about increase in height.