In an attempt to discredit the government on the gains made in fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic, the NDC Member of Parliament for the Juaboso constituency and Ranking Member on the health committee of Parliament, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, over the weekend became a laughing stock on social media when he exposed his ignorance on the pandemic.
The NDC MP and member of John Mahama’s Covid-19 response team, who has been very vocal in criticising the gains made in the fight, had claimed in a television discussion that patients of the disease who had recovered were asymptomatic and, thus were “autoimmune”.
He described “autoimmune” as a state where Covid-19 patients recover on their own without the application of any medication, ostensibly to suggest that the government had no role to play at all in the case of the close to 2000 patients who have recovered from the disease.
Horrifying ‘scientific balderdash’
Mr Akandoh’s exhibition of deep-rooted ignorance has left some professionals worried at the kind of ‘health experts’ that await the country in an unlikely event that the NDC wins another election in the country.
One medical expert, speaking to the Daily Statesman, described Mr Akandoh’s ignorance as “very horrifying”, describing it as “scientific balderdash”.
“I am terrified for the future of this country and the health of its citizens if the likes of Mr Mintah Akandoh and the NDC COVID-19 response team are entrusted with managing the health of Ghanaians, especially since they cannot distinguish between basic scientific terminologies such as asymptomatic and autoimmune,” he told the Daily Statesman.
“Autoimmune”, according to experts, are typically symptomatic chronic conditions that are not caused by external infectious agents such as parasites, viruses or bacteria, and that cannot be cured but only controlled with the appropriate drugs. Medical experts say the term refers to a failure of the body’s immune system to recognise its own cells and tissues as ‘self’, thus immune responses are launched against these cells and tissues as if there were foreign or invading bodies.
Autoimmunity in science or medicine, therefore, describes a situation where, “an organism or individual’s own immune cells fight against other healthy cells in the same individual’s body”. This results in diseases such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and the more familiar diabetes mellitus (in our local Ghanaian context), among many others.
Experts say a person who is asymptomatic, when infected by a disease-causing agent, does not show overt signs or symptoms of the disease, whereas autoimmune individuals show chronic signs or symptoms of a disease, often leading to a fatal outcome.