First question: why the fuss?
We get surprised easily and forget that we are still in a country where there is basically no database for anything, where ‘let’s do it anyhow‘ is the principle by which we run our government.
The Future Africa Team Lead, Bukonla Adebakin said in a Rubbin’ Minds episode: “We are paying the price of zero data.” But that’s not just about it. We also fail to remember that ‘religion’ and ‘culture’, not ‘logic’, ‘rationality’ leads us on in our decisions – and national policies.
We would prefer to allow you an outdated cultural practice – the one no one knows started and why – than to stop the spread of a pandemic that is causing the death of fellow human beings. What happened to the remaining drop of humanity in us?
Fortunately for the Coordinator of the Kano State Technical Response Team on COVID-19, Dr Tijjani Hussain, a verbal autopsy is a practice and Wikipedia says, “Verbal autopsy (VA) is a method of gathering information about symptoms and circumstances for a deceased individual to determine their cause of death. Health information and a description of events prior to death are acquired from conversations or interviews with a person or persons familiar with the deceased and analysed by health professionals or computer algorithms to assign likely cause(s) of death.”
Unfortunately for him, this is not the time to adopt this culturally-influenced practice – especially as it is already established that it is very unlikely that the ‘health professionals’ who will collect this information will not bother analysing it. I mean…where is the time to do all that?
Verbal autopsies will probably go a little something like this:
“You are sure he died of malaria?”
“Fine. Thanks. We will contact you if there is any other information we might need.” And that is it.
Imagine the family or friends of the deceased says he/she died of unknown causes.
“He just slept and never woke up.”
This is the kind of information that the health professionals in Kano, led by our dear Umar Ganduje, will be handling and using to determine if COVID-19 is the one causing mass deaths in the state or not.
Indeed, we have largely downplayed that Nigeria is fighting not one but two epidemics. We have turned a blind eye – if we ever knew – that Lassa Fever has officially killed one hundred and eighty-eight (188) people in Nigeria than COVID-19. We ignore that Malaria is the continent’s number one killer, and poverty will be indirectly responsible of thousands of deaths. Child mortality has not reduced either. But, at least, we have official numbers for those other causes (relatively) and understand the cause of death.
A verbal autopsy for a virus with symptoms as fever, tiredness, dry cough, and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea will only mislead health professionals, especially if the hundreds that have died actually died of COVID-19. We should also remember that some of the patients are asymptomatic.
Dr Tijjani has mentioned that the team will soon reveal findings from the verbal autopsy and we can’t wait for this revealing document. The ‘findings’ should not surprise you – it’s still Nigeria.
Meanwhile, there are seventy-seven (77) confirmed cases in Kano, with one death recorded and a testing centre that will be opened on Monday (Dr Osagie Ehanire) and Tuesday (Dr Tijjani).
See how Nigerians are reacting:
Wazobia FM Kano: Did you do autopsies?
Kano State's COVID-19 Team: Kano tradition and religion doesn't encourage autopsy, so we adopted verbal autopsy from families of the deceased. We will soon reveal our findings.
Sandra's mind: blown.
— Sandra Ezekwesili (@SEzekwesili) April 27, 2020
Verbal autopsies are cheaper and very accurate compared to the regular autopsies.
For verbal autopsy you can get the autospy report in few minutes.
With the drop in price of crude oil, we are considering EXPORTING this knowledge to other parts of the world.
It's the new wave!
— Duru Brian ❁ (@durubrian) April 27, 2020
A verbal autopsy is basically postmortem history taking using informants, in this case, possibly illiterate family members.
It has a high tendency of producing misleading results for victims of a disease with nonspecific or constitutional symptoms e.g COVID-19.
— Adunni Achebe (@_Adadioramma) April 27, 2020
NO burial register.
NO records of death rate.
NO routine autopsies for mystery deaths.
NO accurate database of dead people.
This is the sad state of Kano.
That is why Kano people are dying and Ganduje is doing guesswork and verbal autopsy.
This is how Kano failed Kano citizens.
— #OurFavOnlineDoc ? (@DrOlufunmilayo) April 27, 2020
Nigeria has become so advanced in human anatomy that they came up with a new wave in the medical world.
Compared to the regular autopsy , verbal autopsy is cheap and it gives accurate results within few seconds.
Giant of Africa doing giant things again?
— Alhaji Beardless Smallie??♀️?? (@SMiTHiE___) April 27, 2020
Verbal autopsy has to be the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long while.
Imagine say patience ozokwor off her husband with poison.
IN Kano They’ll now ask her,
“ abeg Wetin K|ll your husband “
She says “ he said he had headache “
They take her word for it and movie ends ?
— Pastor Ola ✨ (@Biisi96) April 27, 2020
Verbal Autopsy is what the Bureau de Change leader of Kano used in a Mass Death?
Autopsy is not permitted in your culture but ignorance is? We’ll just keep calling it the #KanoVirus until y’all leave culture for few minutes and do what is right.
— DANNY ? (@Danny_Walterr) April 27, 2020
So far today
Nigeria hasn't tested more than 11,000 people out of a population of over 180,000,000+ for the Covid-19 virus.
Governor's are discussing ending the lockdown due to low amount of cases.
Kano government announces a new from of autopsy called verbal autopsy
— The Joke (@TheJokehub) April 27, 2020
Omoleye Omoruyi… an apprentice web/game developer, novelist, sensitive to happenings in the world. Meet him @Lord_rickie on Twitter/Instagram