Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Medical malpractice?

Last week Gilbert Sesinyi wrote a response to a letter I wrote. I had objected to his idea that doctors and medicine were the source of our ill-health problems. According to Gilbert all we need is to do is avoid processed food and the “whiteman” and things will be OK.

For instance one of Gilbert’s central ideas seems to be that all organic chemicals are good for us and inorganic ones are all poisons. This is a huge simplification. Oxygen, baking soda and water are all inorganic along with an enormous range of minerals without which we’ll die. On the other hand nicotine, monosodium glutamate and most nerve gasses are all organic compounds. The terms organic and inorganic don’t mean the same as good and bad.

He says that people aren’t living as long as they used to and that this is medicine’s fault. I wanted evidence for this. All we got from Gilbert was an observation that his grandparents lived longer than his parents. Sorry Gilbert but that’s not evidence, that’s an anecdote. It’s a bit like saying that Uncle Albert smoked 20 cigarettes a day, lived to be 90 and therefore smoking isn’t dangerous.

The facts are actually simple. If you exclude the people dying because of AIDS, we are living longer than ever before. It’s our average life expectancy that has decreased and it’s AIDS that did this. Simple as that.

We then had to read Gilbert’s opinion that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. Instead he says that AIDS is due to poor nutrition, cellphone usage and “the whiteman’s culture”. This is similar to the evil nonsense South Africa has been forced to endure from the revolting Matthias Rath. All you need to do, says Rath, is buy vitamins and AIDS will go away. Oh and if you can buy them from him things will be even better. Well for him they will.

I really do object to this reckless, often paranoid denial about HIV and AIDS. I know people living with HIV and they have achieved amazing feats in coping with their infection, modifying their lifestyle, taking ARVs when required and continuing to be valuable members of the community. The denial movement slaps them in the face.

We should count ourselves lucky that we live in a country that is relatively free of AIDS denialism. Countless numbers of our South Africans cousins have died as a result of it and it’s a tribute to us as a country that our government, our health sector and most of our people have avoided the temptation to blame someone else for our situation and instead have taken some level of responsibility for it ourselves.

While all this got me a little hot under the collar Gilbert’s other assertions just made me laugh. Apparently I’m “a member of the oppressor’s nation, the white people”. Furthermore white people are all “either evil or the beneficiaries of evil”. Why can’t we shed these out-dated notions that categorise people “by the colour of their skin rather than the contents of their character”?

A much wiser man than me once said “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”. He also said that “we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools”. He was black by the way, although he did have a very “white” name: Martin Luther King.

Oh, did I mention that my grandmother is 87 and is fighting fit?

Richard Harri-whiteman

1 comment:

John Hawcock said...

I found your blog via your posting on My fiancee is South African and we have both seen for ourselves the damage caused when people believe these idiots. Keep up the battle against ignorance.