I Cannot Weep

I cannot weep with you brothers as I have already spent my emotion. While home in the US for a few weeks, I continued to make appeals to my kinsmen of the African diaspora. The responses I get are amazingly disappointing. The complaints are myriad. Malpractice is too high, office expenses must be met, no one to cover me. It goes on and on. Your complaints are real and legitimate. It is difficult for me to get broke up emotionally over these issues which confront you my brothers and sisters, as I have already spent my emotion on the young boys and girls who have no one to help them swallow their AIDS medicines. They have no one to treat them for the chronic osteomyelitis, or the chronic otitis media with the draining pus from their ears. You see, my list goes on and on too. I cannot weep for you as my emotions are already spent. I take care of women who cannot find anyone to perform a simple pap smear and come in with aggressively invasive carcinoma of the cervix, infiltrating both bowel and bladder, Tuberculosis and malnutrition.

You see in contrast to the US, where there is one doctor for every 450 people, in Kenya it is one for 100,000 plus people in most of the country. That one doctor in Kenya has very little of the technology available to definitively diagnose and effectively treat most illnesses encountered. It is most often a ‘guessing' game. I care for men whose prostate cancer is discovered most often after it has infiltrated beyond any margin for cure and who cannot think of spending money on something like a PSA or they may not eat that day. I wish I could say something less biting. I wish there was some real light at the end of this tunnel. I just don't see it. I see German, Australian, Korean, British, Japanese, and American white doctors, nurses and dentists here. I don't see daughters and sons of Africa serving Africa. I watch these dedicated non-African descendant professionals as they care for wards full of people dying with AIDS, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, coma, which are the typical sort of symptoms on ward rounds where half to often three quarters of a ward of 50-80 people are HIV positive and are dying by the dozens every month.

My emotions is already spent on these non-African doctors have not come to get rich in Africa, nor to see the beautiful wild life. They have come to serve people who don't look like, talk like, or have any history in common with them. I cannot weep for you as I witness these same professionals go into the worst slums of the world, with open sewage, homes made of mud and sticks, rodents and insects passing disease and suffering, just so they can make life a little better, and dying a little easier. While home speaking with my African American professional colleagues, not one of those with whom I spoke wanted to personally involve, or invest in the work of relieving the suffering here in Africa. I get equipment donated, but I have to meet the cost of shipment. I get promises of visits to help, but only if I can find a way to help meet the expense of travel. I get a lot of smiles and warm handshakes and a quick visit to the back door with a pat on the back. I can't even get a significant gift of money. That is why I say, I cannot weep with you brothers and sisters as I have already spent my emotion. You take the time to weep for yourselves. Weep for yourselves as there will come a day at the end of your own career that you will really wonder if you should have invested more in relieving the suffering of which I am speaking.

Weep for yourselves, because the people of this continent don't have the time to weep with you. They are too busy burying their own dead. Life expectancy for nine sub-Saharan African countries is now below 40 years. Infant, maternal and 1st year mortality statistics show no sign of decline and are rising in many countries. When I explain to the Africans whom I meet in Sudan, Congo, Tanzania and Uganda that the African American doctors can't come because they can't meet their expenses, they really don't understand that. They can't weep with you, and I must admit, neither can I. Please get involved. Please invest. Please take some time to do more than emote over your brothers and sisters here in Africa. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!