In Summary

Disabled infants and twins in some communities were killed.

In the annals of culture and history, there are some communities in Africa where you could never find a disabled person from birth. Same wise you could never find twins. The reason was same, but sordid, tragic and if it was today, the world would be outraged.

Disabled infants and twins in some communities were killed. Available literature about Pareland show there was numerous rocks used to kill such children. They were called Mkumbavana rocks, where “Mkumba” meant “push” and “vana” meant “children.” There were many folklore of the rocks that kill children.

A woman who gave birth to a child with disability was forced to go and breast feed her at the top of the rock, and afterwards leave the innocent kid there. The infant would roll over the rock and die. In the Omo Valley (Ethiopia) infants born to single mothers, twins and those born with disabilities were killed through suffocation, hitting them in the head with rocks, drowning them or leaving them in the wild to be eaten up by hyenas. What a cruel world to innocent souls?

We are lucky, because, such “primitive” acts used to happen in the past and they are no longer

there. Science tells us that there are many conditions that may cause children to be born with defects. If the expectant mothers happen to be infected with rubella or chickenpox, the child can be born with defects. This is just but one example. Here comes modern health science and the vaccinations against such conditions have saved millions of children lives across the globe.

Today’s expectant mother is advised to take folic acid and get enough iodine in the diet. She may not know that this can go a long way to prevent some birth defects in her child….

Back to vaccinations, their contribution to human and animal health is not disputable. Smallpox and chickenpox used to kill thousands in Africa. Then we had polio which caused paralysis to many children. Thanks to vaccines, the concern now is history.

Still, there have emerged other health problems, that vaccines have not been invented to successfully contain them. Recently, we had the World Cancer Day, which made me to ponder about all this.

Little did I know that at the global level “cancer causes more deaths than HIV, TB and Malaria.”

In Tanzania, the cancer menace is worsening. According to the Health ministry, at Ocean Road Cancer Institute 2016/2017, statistics indicate the main types of cancer in the country are: cervical (32.8 per cent), breast (12.9 per cent), Skin (Kaposis Sarcoma) (11.7 per cent), and Head and neck (7.6 per cent among others.

According to WHO, about 50,000 Tanzanians every year are diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, to majority (70 per cent), the diagnosis is done at the late stages of the condition. This needs to change, as early treatment is fundamental for one to survive cancer.

There is some good news. A statement issued by Health minister Ummy Mwalimu indicates that from next April government will provide human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to girls aged 9 - 14. The vaccines will protect girls from infection with certain types of HPV, a major cause of cervical cancer. The lifeline offered by the government in the battle against cervical cancer should bring all women together in Tanzania. Let’s make it work.