Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Talk of Germs…Once Again!

By Elias Harfoush  

Through his speech yesterday, President Bashar al-Assad wanted to make use of his medical and scientific background in order to explain what Syria is being subjected to. He did not dismiss the importance of the “conspiracy” or its responsibility for the events, but he also focused on the internal part of the “treatment”. Indeed, he likened the conspiracies to germs coming from the outside and that may be present in the body of any country. He explained to us that medicine never sought to exterminate those germs, but rather to provide an internal immunity that allows the body to fight them in an effective manner.

Thus, according to the Syrian president, there is an effective treatment for Syria’s infection with these germs. Apparently, Al-Assad thinks that this is a different treatment than the one suggested by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi - in order to fight the “rats” that had spread out in his country. Apparently, Al-Assad’s treatment is not one that merely consists of an amputation like the method of the Libyan leader who vowed to chase down his “rats” in “every street and every home.” It does include some mercy and humanity, in agreement with the Hippocratic oath, as it combines surgical treatment in the cases where this kind of treatment is an absolute necessity, with treatment through medication and pain killers, which needs some time to produce results. Thus, there was a call to wait for two or three months so that the laboratory experiments would be completed and the treatment period and perhaps full recovery would occur according to the hopes of the treating president.
For the sake of precision, we must indicate at this point that the last diagnosis announced by Dr. Bashar al-Assad concerning the Syrian situation is quite different from the earlier diagnosis that he came up with at the end of last January in his famous talk to the Wall Street Journal. In that talk, he considered that the “stagnant waters” – in the countries that had been hit with the Arab uprisings at the time – are the factor that led to the prevalence of pollution or to the appearance of germs in those countries. Back then, he was holding those regimes responsible for failing to uncover those stagnant waters before it was too late. Thus, it was inevitable for them to contract diseases.

Back then, the germs had not yet reached the “Syrian nation.” But now that it has happened, it was not easy for the president of the country to hold himself responsible for failing to protect his country from the stagnant waters. Thus, it was easier for him to hold the external germs responsible for this and to make promises of dealing with them through the activation of the internal immunity. This raises the question about what can be medically done in the Syrian case if the sick body refuses to respond to the treatment prescribed by the doctor.
This treatment is being faced by three obstacles that will be hard to overcome:

First, the patient has doubts concerning the efficiency of the treatment prescribed by the doctor. There is a feeling that the doctor has been late to prescribe the treatment since he had previously misdiagnosed the disease when he considered that the Syrian body is immune to the “germs” that hit some of its neighbors. However, he modified this diagnosis less than five months later. This indicates a lack of specificity in the diagnosis and doubts concerning the safety of the treatment. It is well known of course that the trust between the doctor and the patient is the basis for providing a chance to heal.
Second, there are doubts on whether the doctor – who is Dr. Al-Assad in this case – actually owns all the treatment tools, assuming that the diagnosis is correct and that the patient has honest intentions to heal. Based on the latest two speeches of the Syrian president since the beginning of the crisis, the promises of reform kept walking hand in hand with the security practices that left an important number of Syrian casualties. Al-Assad considered these to be “martyrs” and he said that this is a “personal loss” for him! This contradiction might indicate the presence of other doctors, in addition to the main doctor, who are suggesting other methods for treatment that are in disagreement with his diagnosis.

As to the third and perhaps most important obstacle, it relates to the ability of the patient’s body to wait for the suggested treatment period. Dr. Al-Assad indicated that this period will extend for three months, and that it might extend until the end of this year. However, the internal demands and the external calls for reform in Syria require a quick solution. This was set by the consultant of the Turkish President Abdullah Gul at “less than a week to the start of the foreign interference.” Meanwhile, the officials of the European Union and of President Barak Obama’s Administration have called on the Syrian regime to change…or to leave.
How can a doctor who is facing this kind of pressure be leading a successful treatment, and how can a patient wait for months to heal when this patient is saying that he has been living in the intensive care unit for four decades…and no one has asked about his state?

This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 21/06/2011

No comments:

Post a Comment